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Journal of Sensors
Volume 2016, Article ID 8121678, 15 pages
Research Article

An Automated Sensing System for Steel Bridge Inspection Using GMR Sensor Array and Magnetic Wheels of Climbing Robot

Department of Intelligent Interaction Technologies, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8573, Japan

Received 2 June 2015; Revised 12 October 2015; Accepted 20 October 2015

Academic Editor: Paddy French

Copyright © 2016 Rui Wang and Youhei Kawamura. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Corrosion is one of the main causes of deterioration of steel bridges. It may cause metal loss and fatigue cracks in the steel components, which would lead to the collapse of steel bridges. This paper presents an automated sensing system to detect corrosion, crack, and other kinds of defects using a GMR (Giant Magnetoresistance) sensor array. Defects will change the relative permeability and electrical conductivity of the material. As a result, magnetic field density generated by ferromagnetic material and the magnetic wheels will be changed. The defects are able to be detected by using GMR sensor array to measure the changes of magnetic flux density. In this study, magnetic wheels are used not only as the adhesion device of the robot, but also as an excitation source to provide the exciting magnetic field for the sensing system. Furthermore, compared to the eddy current method and the MFL (magnetic flux leakage) method, this sensing system suppresses the noise from lift-off value fluctuation by measuring the vertical component of induced magnetic field that is perpendicular to the surface of the specimen in the corrosion inspection. Simulations and experimental results validated the feasibility of the system for the automated defect inspection.