Vertical displacement measurements for bridges using optical fiber sensors and CCD cameras - A preliminary study

Tommy H.T. Chan, Demeke B. Ashebo, Hwa Yaw Tam, Y. Yu, T. F. Chan, P. C. Lee, Eduardo Perez Gracia

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


Bridge managers all over the world are always looking for simple ways to measure bridge vertical displacements for structural health monitoring. However, traditional methods to obtain such data are either tedious or expensive. There is a need to develop a simple, inexpensive, and yet practical method to measure bridge vertical displacements. This paper proposes two methods using either optical fiber (FBG) sensors or a charge-coupled-device (CCD) camera, respectively, for vertical displacement measurements of bridges. The FBG sensor method is based on the measured horizontal strains together with the identified curvature functions obtained by a self-developed FBG Tilt sensor. CCD cameras use a large number of pixels to form an image. The CCD camera method utilizes image processing techniques for pixel identification and subsequent edge detection. A preliminary study to validate the proposed methods in laboratory was presented. The tests include applying the methods to determine the vertical displacements separately for a concrete beam and a steel beam under various loadings. The comparisons include their installations, costs, degrees of accuracy, external factors affecting the measurement, etc. It was concluded that both methods could be used for vertical displacement measurement, and they could be complementary with one another. It was suggested to further improve the two methods developed and a successful outcome will not only help to solve an important problem for bridge management, but also prepare the way for better structural health monitoring techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-249
Number of pages7
JournalStructural Health Monitoring
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2009


  • CCD camera
  • FBG sensors
  • Optical fiber sensors
  • Structural health monitoring
  • Vertical displacement measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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