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E. A More Efficient Way to Inspect Bridges

Narrator: This is Science Today. This is Science Today. A revolutionary way to inspect bridge decks has been developed by researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Each year, highway inspectors shut down bridge lanes to conduct tedious visual and sound inspection of the decks. But Lab physicist Jose Hernandez says they've created the HERMES bridge inspector to do the job more efficiently.

Hernandez: It's this moving, high-speed machine that can give you a picture of what's inside of the deck without having to shut down the traffic or remove the asphalt. It's a trailer that was meant to be pulled by a truck or some other vehicle and on the rear of the trailer we have an array with sixty-four antennas.

Narrator: These are hooked up to 64 radar sensors pioneered at the Lab that can penetrate the concrete and give inspectors a view of the bridge deck that's similar to a cat scan.

Hernandez: It's really a first prototype, it's a research tool. The federal highway administration is currently testing it throughout the country, trying to assess the capabilities and limitations.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.