The most common cause of bridge collapses is due to scour, erosion that is caused when water pushes away river bed deposits and creates holes around the bridge pier or abutment. Researchers from the Missouri University of Science and Technology are developing an accurate, easy and cost-effective method to monitor the bridge’s foundation through the use of three different types of smart rocks.
The three different types of smart rock technologies are passive, active, and semi-active. The passive smart rocks feature an embedded magnet that is read by a remote magnetometer. Embedded electronics in the active smart rocks send data via wireless communications, and the semi-active smart rocks have a free-to-rotate magnet that is controlled by electronic circuitry. These rocks will be placed at bridge foundation bases, and will roll into the deepest point of a scour hole reporting information back to engineers.