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IBM Is Using AI and Drones to Help Spot Cracks in Airport Runways

Author: Switzerland Innovation

Detecting cracks in civil infrastructure, such as bridges, roads, and airport runways, isn't easy, but it’s crucial to prevent bigger problems and enhance maintenance routines 

To address the issue with AI before major problems occur, IBM Research is working in Switzerland with the Kanton Zurich, drone company pixmap, and the location promotion at the airfield of the Switzerland Innovation Park Zurich.

To inspect the runways, a drone equipped with a camera will scan the runway and capture images. The AI model automatically applies what is known as instance segmentation to identify cracks in more than 10,000 images. As a result, a civil engineering expert is guided to the appropriate areas to assess the condition of the runway. Using GPS and image stitching technology, they can create representations of the runway that allow workers to quickly find and describe the location of defects on site. Information about crack lengths and widths is automatically filled in and stored so that it can be searched for later. 

Want to learn more about the project

Switzerland Innovation Park Zurich is creating a new platform for research, development and innovation on the Dübendorf airfield site.


Picture shows the airfield Dübendorf © Switzerland Innovation Park Zurich