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The measurement of static vertical deflections on bridges continues to be a first-level technological challenge. These data are of great interest, especially for the case of long-term bridge monitoring; in fact, they are perhaps more valuable than any other measurable parameter. This is because material degradation processes and changes of the mechanical properties of the structure due to aging (for example creep and shrinkage in concrete bridges) have a direct impact on the exhibited static vertical deflections. This paper introduces and evaluates an approach to monitor displacements and rotations of structures using a novel laser and video-based displacement transducer (LVBDT). The proposed system combines the use of laser beams, LED lights, and a digital video camera, and was especially designed to capture static and slow-varying displacements. Contrary to other video-based approaches, the camera is located on the bridge, hence allowing to capture displacements at one location. Subsequently, the sensing approach and the procedure to estimate displacements and the rotations are described. Additionally, laboratory and in-service field testing carried out to validate the system are presented and discussed. The results demonstrate that the proposed sensing approach is robust, accurate, and reliable, and also inexpensive, which are essential for field implementation.


© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license.



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