Feasibility Study of Tractor-Test Vehicle Technique for Practical Structural Condition Assessment of Beam-Like Bridge Deck

Yang Yang, Quan Cheng, Yuanhao Zhu, Leilei Wang, Ruoyu (Roy) Jin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The tractor-test vehicle technique of non-destructive testing for indirect measurement of the modal properties of a bridge deck is revisited in this paper with several improvements for possible practical application to the structural condition assessment of a beam-like bridge deck. The effect of damping of the vehicle-bridge system is considered and the modal properties from only
the first vibration mode of the structure will be used for a quick and simple assessment. The two test vehicles are designed to have the same modal frequency and damping ratio but with parameters in the follower No.2 test vehicle proportional to those in the follower No.1 test vehicle. This effectively removes the effect of road surface roughness in the response of an equivalent vehicle such that the error in the subsequent condition assessment is reduced. Through data collected onsite transmitted to the remote computer platform, a simple technique based on the moment curvature relationship acceptable to practical engineers is adopted for the condition assessment with improvements in the estimation of the element bending stiffness of the deck. Scenarios with different damping, vehicle speed, road surface roughness, and local damages in the bridge structure are studied with or without temperature effect in the measurement. Through numerical simulations and field tests, the tractor-test vehicle technique of non-destructive testing with the proposed modifications and improvements has been demonstrated to give consistently accurate estimates of the element bending stiffness of the bridge deck but with a small error close to the end of the deck.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


Bibliographical note

© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution
(CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).


  • tractor-test vehicle technique
  • bridge deck
  • assessment
  • element bending stiffness
  • damping
  • vehicle speed
  • road surface roughness
  • temperature
  • Damping
  • Temperature
  • Tractor-test vehicle technique
  • Vehicle speed
  • Assessment
  • Road surface roughness
  • Element bending stiffness
  • Bridge deck

Cite this