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Acoustic Look at Underwater Infrastructure

Until recently, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) faced costly and dangerous challenges when inspecting the condition of underwater infrastructure. Today, that task is carried out using high-resolution acoustic imaging cameras and innovative imaging software. Acoustic imaging cameras are deployed using a variety of methods to conduct life cycle analysis and visualize the parts of dams, locks, or other assets that cannot be easily inspected. Previously, USACE divers were forced to conduct turbid water inspections by hand, feeling the assets and then recording their observations once they returned to the surface. This process was dangerous, time-consuming, and costly for the teams of divers needed to complete a single inspection. In comparison, acoustic imaging allows for faster, less expensive, and more accurate, with dramatically reduced safety risk. The successful implementation of this system can be seen at the Ormond Lock and Dam in the Arkansas River, the Melvin Price Locks and Dam along the Mississippi River, and numerous other locations throughout the country. By pioneering technology that has reduced the time, risk, and cost of critical underwater inspections, the USACE is helping to develop a 21st Century approach to asset management.


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