Patented Smart Bearings for Bridge Safety

(Image by Pexels from Pixabay)


By: Anna Zarra Aldrich ’20 (CLAS), Office of the Vice President for Research

Bridges are a key part of any modern transportation network, but it can be difficult to monitor the safety and upkeep needs of these structures without precise data.

University of Connecticut associate professor of civil and environmental engineering Arash Zaghi has recently been issued a patent for a bridge bearing assembly with sensors that can be used to assess the structural “health” of bridges. These “smart” bearings enable bridges to accommodate movement due changes in load from traffic and temperature variations, for example.

According to a report on bridges by the American Road & Transportation Builder’s Association, 7.6% of America’s bridges are “structurally deficient” and in need of urgent repairs. Another 38% of all bridges in the United States have repair needs. Identifying these needs precisely and early can help prevent catastrophic collapses and more extensive repairs later.

Currently, bridges are monitored mainly through visual inspections. This process is time-consuming, expensive and less reliable than monitoring bridges with high-tech sensors. Zaghi’s invention addresses this need by providing consistent, easily accessible data that reveals the state of a bridge’s structural integrity over time.

To read the full article on UConn Today, click here.