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Footbridge dynamic performance assessment using inertial measurement units

conference contribution
posted on 2018-05-21, 10:19 authored by James M. W. Brownjohn, Mateusz Bocian, David Hester
Dynamic performance of footbridges is still a great concern to designers, operators and users, with many structures requiring investigation before, during and after construction to manage performance. We have been investigating the use of wireless inertial measurement units (IMUs) designed for biomechanics, health and sports science application for estimating human dynamic loads or ground reaction forces (GRFs) on structures. The aim has been to move from direct measurements using force plates and treadmills, via optical motion capture in the laboratory (with application of Newton’s Second law), to unconstrained field conditions. Initially we used IMUs to evaluate pedestrian synchronisation, but we found that a single IMU attached to the C7 neck vertebra can provide a remarkably accurate estimate of vertical GRF. With an ability to communicate and synchronise within a group wirelessly, to identify orientation and transform accelerations into world coordinates, IMUs can identify both the GRF force vectors and their time varying location with a moving pedestrian. As a side-benefit, the signal to noise ratio and synchronisation accuracy are sufficient to enable low-cost wireless footbridge ambient vibration testing and monitoring. So far we have used IMUs for ambient and forced vibration testing (the latter using a human shaker), moving pedestrian load and response measurement and crowd tracking. There are many more possibilities.


We are grateful to Devon County Council for granting permission to carry out measurements on the Exeter footbridges.



Footbridge 2017 Berlin - Tell A Story, 2017

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Engineering


Footbridge 2017 Berlin - Tell A Story, 6-8.9.2017, Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin)


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