Quarterly Webinar Series


2020 Series

September 2020

UAV-enabled Measurement for Spatial Magnetic Field of Smart Rocks in Bridge Scour Monitoring

Present:  September 14, 2020, 10:00AM-11:00 AM Central Time
Speaker: Dr. Genda Chen, Missouri S&T



This lecture will present an overview of the research, development, validation, and implementation of 'smart' rocks as in-situ agents to assist in remote monitoring of bridge scour in real time.  It will start with a brief review of fundamental concepts such as magnet, polarization, magnetic field, and field measurement principle. It will then introduce the concept of ‘smart’ rocks, demonstrate it through small-scale laboratory tests, and design and fabricate gravity-controlled ‘smart’ rocks for field implementation based on river hydrodynamics and riverbed conditions. Next, a ‘smart’ rock localization optimization algorithm will be formulated analytically and validated experimentally in open fields. It will be followed by the integration of magnetic field measurements into a mobile unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) including a global positioning system. Finally, this lecture will present the field test and simulation results at a bridge site and data interpretation to determine a critical engineering parameter - maximum scour depth in the past three years. Overall, a properly-designed ‘smart’ rock consistently moved down the bottom of a scour hole through repeated laboratory tests. Each UAV-supported field test lasted for about 10 minutes. The ‘smart’ rock positioning at the bridge site is consistent with an accuracy of approximately 0.3 m. ‘Smart’ rocks is a promising technology to mitigating the effects of bridge scour, which is the main reason for the collapsing of over 1,500 bridges in the U.S.


Dr. Genda Chen is Professor and Robert W. Abbett Distinguished Chair in Civil Engineering, Director of the INSPIRE University Transportation Center, and Director of the Center for Intelligent Infrastructure at Missouri University of Science and Technology (S&T). He received his Ph.D. degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1992 and joined Missouri S&T after over three years of bridge design, inspection, and construction practices. Since 1996, Dr. Chen has authored or co-authored over 400 technical publications in structural health monitoring (SHM), structural control, computational and experimental mechanics, multi-hazards assessment and mitigation, and transportation infrastructure preservation and resiliency including over 180 journal papers, 5 book chapters, and 27 keynote and invited presentations at international conferences. He chaired the 9th International Conference on Structural Health Monitoring of Intelligent Infrastructure (SHMII-9), St. Louis, Missouri, August 4-7, 2019. He received the 2019 SHM Person of the Year award, the 1998 National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the 2004 Academy of Civil Engineers Faculty Achievement Award, and the 2009, 2011, and 2013 Missouri S&T Faculty Research Awards. In 2016, he was nominated and inducted into the Academy of Civil Engineers at Missouri S&T and became an honorary member of Chi Epsilon. He is a Fellow of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Structural Engineering Institute (SEI), and the International Society for Structural Health Monitoring of Intelligent Infrastructure (ISHMII). He is a Section Editor of the Intelligent Sensors, Associate Editor of the Journal of Civil Structural Health Monitoring, Associate Editor of Advances in Bridge Engineering, Editorial Board Member of Advances in Structural Engineering, and Vice President of the U.S. Panel on Structural Control and Monitoring.


June 2020

Mobile Manipulating Drones

Present:  June 17, 2020, 11:00 AM Central Time
Speaker: Dr. Paul Oh, University of Nevada, Las Vegas



In the past few years, robotic limbs have been attached to rotorcraft drones to perform aerial manipulation.  Unlike simple object pick-and-place, such mobile-manipulating drones are dexterous to perform tasks like valve-turning, hatch-opening, and tool-handling.  This is a paradigm shift where such drones actively interact with their environment rather than just passively surveil.  Aerial manipulation is challenging because such interaction yields reaction forces and torques that destabilize the drone.  This talk provides an overview of aerial manipulation and showcase examples that could serve in infrastructure inspection, maintenance, and repair.


Dr. Paul Oh is the Lincy Professor of Unmanned Aerial Systems in the Mechanical Engineering Department for the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering.  He is establishing an unmanned autonomous systems laboratory at UNLV, complete with a fleet of drones and several humanoid robots. 

From 2000 to 2014, he served as a Mechanical Engineering Professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia and founded and directed the Drones and Autonomous Systems Laboratory (DASL). 

Oh is the former program director for robotics at the National Science Foundation where he managed a portfolio that suppored almost all academic non-military robotics research in American universities.  He has been a fellow of Boeing, and worked with the Office of Naval Research and NASA Caltech/Jet Propulsion Lab.