Smart cities are moving towards the automation of many essential services. Quality of life for city residents relies on the safety of its buildings, roads, bridges and other infrastructures. Manual inspection of these infrastructures, besides being costly, is a tedious task that requires special skills and intense labour — especially when access to some sites, like bridges, is not easy. Due to the sheer number of bridges and inspection timelines, there is a critical backlog for inspecting bridges in Canada that requires an immediate solution.
As a result of a University of Waterloo partnership with Rogers that began in 2019, Chul Min Yeum and Sriram Narasimhan, Waterloo professors of civil and environmental engineering, received research funding for the creation of a 5G smart city infrastructure monitoring and alerting system using cutting edge artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms to automate the inspection of civil structures.
"With the recent development in robot technology, sensors, augmented and virtual reality, supported by advances in 5G mobile connectivity, remote inspection of civil infrastructure is now a feasible option," says Yeum.