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Will AI Replace Structural Concrete Engineers?

Will AI Replace Structural Concrete Engineers?

Artificial intelligence is advancing each and every day. And while we may not be close to being overrun with transcendent, tyrannical robots as much science fiction media has prophesied, the steady replacement of AI over human labour is looking to become an unquestionable reality.

AI crack detection units are being developed for the construction industry as an alternative method to manual crack inspections. Their high-tech cameras, comprehensive software and intelligent autonomy are highlighting just how AI technology could improve safety and efficiency within the construction sector for the years ahead.

This article is going to take a look at how AI crack detection units work, how accurate they are and whether concrete engineers should fear obsoletion at the hands of these devices.

What is an AI crack detection unit?

AI crack detection units have been created to identify cracks as they start to appear in concrete structures such as bridges and beams. Currently, this is achieved largely by manual inspection methods and is therefore prone to human subjectivity and error. AI crack detection units have been touted as having superior accuracy in comparison to human inspection. This is immensely important for an area where safety is paramount; recognising cracks early not only aids in the maintenance of pre existing structures but also provides crucial data for future projects.


How do they work?

There are a variety of sensors and camera types used by AI crack detection units to capture images. This gives the unit a wide range of sources to work from.

These images include:

  • Camera Image
  • Infrared Image
  • Laser Image
  • Diffraction Image
  • Ultrasonic Image
  • Various other unique image types

Advancements in camera technology has greatly aided the development of these AI units by allowing these pictures to be taken in great detail.


The units work by:

  1. Taking various images of the structure.
  2. Using its intelligence to pre-process the images, keeping the necessary images and condensing them for the further processing stage.
  3. The images are then processed.
  4. The unit will use the information garnered from the previous image process to recognise of any subtle cracks that have appeared over a time period.
  5. The unit will then separate the cracks by width, depth and direction.


How effective are AIs currently?

There are many positives to the AI crack detection unit but there also some drawbacks.

Firstly, there have been irregularities in the accuracies of different measurements. Longitudinal measurements of the crack depth have been shown to be much more accurate than the transversal direction, which is somewhat lacking. The difference could be problematic and the gap would need to be narrowed somewhat to rectify this.

The AI may be highly intelligent in processing data and recognising cracks but it is currently not that great at decision-making, meaning that often the data is not analysed efficiently enough or in the right way for humans to intervene and take immediate action on the crack.

These improvements will need to be made before the units can be fully trusted and utilised as the primary crack detection method.


Will AIs replace structural concrete engineers?

While the technology is certainly exciting, it is also still in its infancy. The errors that are present in the current technology will need to be worked on before structural concrete engineers are replaced. And while the future may see AI become more commonplace, as of right now, humans continue to be the most trusted means of detecting cracks in concrete structures.

At Concrete Drilling Services Ltd, we trust our concrete engineers fully, because our team are comprised of some of the most efficient, experienced and hardworking professionals in the industry. We’re fully dedicated to various concrete removal services and thrive off the customer feedback we receive.

If you’d like to enquire about any of our extensive services, give our team a call today.

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