Commission Grantee UC San Diego

UCSD researchers using drones to detect earthquake damage to buildings


A team of researchers at UC San Diego is developing a new approach for detecting earthquake damage to buildings with funding provided in part by the California Seismic Safety Commission.  This work will permit more rapid damage assessment of structures after a seismic event and may lead to the ability to identify which buildings are safe to enter much more quickly and using less expert resource than is currently needed. Use of this technology will help speed post-disaster recovery.

The research team is using techniques that were earlier used on a 6 story building on the UCSD shake table, the largest outdoor test facility of its kind in the world, where the Commission had provided funding for the shake test and drone building mapping.  Then working together with laser mapping experts from Scripps Institute of Oceanography they mapped the iconic UCSD Geisel Library, making a digital record of the structure.

“We are using this culturally significant building on campus as a reference model to help detect structural changes over time,” said Falko Kuester, a professor of structural engineering who serves as director of the Jacob’s School Cultural Heritage Engineering Initiative (CHEI) and DroneLab and a Commission grantee.