Drones for the physical inspection of a 166 year old bridge in Wales


Engineers working on the Britannia bridge, Wales
Thanks to the use of drones, the complex project of inspecting the 166 year old Britannia Bridge was facilitated significantly.
As part of their commitment to innovation, Ferrovial’s UK based subsiduary Amey have completed a large-scale project to inspect the Welsh Britannia Bridge, on behalf of Network Rail. As well as being 166 years old, the bridge which connects Anglesey to the Welsh mainland carries a large volume of passengers via train and car daily. This means that this type of inspection should be carried out regularly in order to effectively maintain the well-known structure. Through the combined efforts of 40 Amey engineers, rope access inspectors and confined space and safety experts, the bridge's assets were successfully inspected at more than 130ft above the Menai Street. In order to reduce the risk of harm to the engineers, Amey also incorporated innovative technology by using drones for a physical inspection. This type of innovation has come to be very beneficial whilst inspecting large infrastructures such as bridges or Railways which are often difficult to access using solely hands-on techniques. The firm combined with VTOL Technologies and made use of a long range drone to assess hard to reach parts of the infrastructure, as well as part that had never been studied before.It also meant that the old bridge was able to remain open, thus avoiding any form of traffic disruption.
Gary Vickerman from Network Rail commented: “Britannia Bridge, one of the most iconic structures in Wales, but also one of the most complex that Network Rail has to manage. The sheer size of the structure, Menai Strait, working at height and confined spaces all contribute to the difficulty of this examination. Amey’s innovation through the use of Unmanned Air Vehicles has resulted in a more efficient examination, its pleasing to see we are making use of modern technology. Close working between Amey & Network Rail facilitated the examination of internal voids previously unexamined due to access constraints."


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