A radar-based sensor network for bridge displacement measurements

Jennifer A. Rice, Changzhan Gu, Changzhi Li, Shanyue Guan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The development of effective structural health monitoring (SHM) strategies is critical as aging infrastructure remains a national concern with widespread impact on the quality of our daily lives. Wireless smart sensor networks (WSSNs) are an attractive alternative to traditional SHM systems for their lower deployment cost and their ability to enable new methods of distributed data processing. While acceleration has been the primary measurement utilized in most WSSN SHM applications, practically and accurately capturing structural deflections has been proven much more challenging. Displacement sensors produce reliable low-frequency measurements but are often difficult to implement in long-term field deployments. Conventional technologies for measuring deflection, both dynamic and static, are either too bulky or expensive to be integrated into WSSNs or lack sufficient accuracy. This paper presents the validation and characterization of a network of low-cost, wireless radar-based sensors for the enhancement of low-frequency vibrationbased bridge monitoring and the measurement of static bridge deflections. Experimental results utilizing a laboratoryscale truss bridge are presented and the performance of the wireless radar sensors is compared to conventional vibration and displacement transducers. In addition, challenges associated with detection distance, interference rejection and signal processing are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Systems 2012
StatePublished - 2012
EventSensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Systems 2012 - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Mar 12 2012Mar 15 2012

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


ConferenceSensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Systems 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • Displacement sensor
  • Noncontact sensor
  • Radar sensor
  • Structural health monitoring
  • Wireless sensor network


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