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DOCOMO and Kyoto University develop world’s first AI system to detect bridge deterioration using video-based vehicle weights and structural deflection

— Technology enables simple camera-based inspection of bridges and other aging infrastructure to facilitate early repair and service-life extension —


NTT DOCOMO, INC. and Kyoto University announced that they have developed what is believed to be the world’s first artificial intelligence-based system for inspecting bridges based on vehicle weights and structural deflection estimated from video footage. The system will be deployed on a trial basis at Yatsuo Ohashi bridge in Toyama Prefecture, Japan between December 9, 2019 and September 30, 2020.

The system uses video images to estimate the weights of vehicles traversing a bridge and the resulting structural deflection caused by the vehicles. AI is then used to analyze the data and estimate the bridge’s structural integrity and degradation. The capability to estimate vehicle weights is expected to strengthen degradation estimations.

Since vehicle traffic and construction environments vary from bridge to bridge, performing periodic inspections and accumulating data on each bridge will enable the accuracy of the AI technology to be improved. In the coming era of 5G mobile networks, the system will realize low-latency transmission of high-definition 4K or 8K video data leading to highly accurate and efficient inspections.

In Japan, bridges of between roughly 10 and 30 meters are normally checked visually or with hammering tests. There are other challenges. Inspection quality often varies according to the skill of the technicians. Also, scaffolding costs and other factors are likely to cause the high costs of inspection. In response, the use of drone images to analyze surface cracks and corrosion has increased in recent years, but assessing structural integrity from drone images alone can be difficult. The demand continues to grow for technologies that enable infrastructure to be inspected efficiently, assessed accurately for degradation and integrity, and repaired promptly, if required.

DOCOMO will use the upcoming trial to help develop an affordable and practical method for inspecting bridges. By 2022, a commercial AI-based inspection system is expected to be launched for the benefit of society.


NTT DOCOMO, Japan’s leading mobile operator with over 79 million subscriptions, is one of the world’s foremost contributors to 3G, 4G and 5G mobile network technologies. Beyond core communications services, DOCOMO is challenging new frontiers in collaboration with a growing number of entities (“+d” partners), creating exciting and convenient value-added services that change the way people live and work. Under a medium-term plan toward 2020 and beyond, DOCOMO is pioneering a leading-edge 5G network to facilitate innovative services that will amaze and inspire customers beyond their expectations. DOCOMO is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (9437).

About Kyoto University

Kyoto University is one of Japan and Asia’s premier research institutions, founded in 1897 and responsible for producing numerous Nobel laureates and winners of other prestigious international prizes.
A broad curriculum across the arts and sciences at both undergraduate and graduate levels is complemented by numerous research centers, as well as facilities and offices around Japan and the world. For more information please see:

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