Longtime Bridge Inspector Brings Topcon UAS into Fleet

Michael Baker International, an Irvine, Calif.-based provider of engineering, planning and consulting services, has expanded its inspection services with the purchase of a Topcon Falcon 8 unmanned aircraft system (UAS).

Combined with Michael Baker’s mobile and static LiDAR systems for data collection, the integration of the new UAS creates a safer, more intricate solution for inspection and mapping, the company explains.

The rotary-wing UAS features eight rotors, three individual inertial measurement units to calculate and fix the device’s position, fully automated flight routes, precise structure analysis and damage detection, and maximum safety with triple redundancy.

Michael Baker says it operates as a two-person team: one piloting the aircraft and the other using 3D goggles for a first-person view.

Additionally, the Falcon 8’s integrated thermal camera creates new service offerings, such as monitoring heat loss and thermal leakage in concrete and pipeline inspections and conducting heat surveys of buildings looking to achieve LEED certification.

“Michael Baker has an extensive history of performing inspections – having literally written the book on bridge inspection training for the Federal Highway Administration (FHA),” says Robert Hanson, senior vice president and market leader for Michael Baker’s geospatial practice.

He adds, “With the purchase of the Falcon 8 UAS, Michael Baker is now one of seven firms in North America to use this system, which allows us to offer an advanced, highly engineered inspection solution for engineering projects.”

Michael Baker is deploying the new UAS as part of two new contract wins: a statewide contract from the Nevada Department of Transportation for digital aerial imagery and video and/or other remotely sensed data and a task order with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for determining the feasibility for the use of UAS in bridge inspections.

Michael Baker says it has a 76-year history of conducting bridge and infrastructure inspections, including more than 25 years of inspection training for the FHA.

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