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  1. Purpose This paper aims to present an unconditionally energy-stable scheme for approximating the convective heat transfer equation. Design/methodology/approach The scheme stems from the generalized positive auxiliary variable (gPAV) idea and exploits a special treatment for the convection term. The original convection term is replaced by its linear approximation plus a correction term, which is under the control of an auxiliary variable. The scheme entails the computation of two temperature fields within each time step, and the linear algebraic system resulting from the discretization involves a coefficient matrix that is updated periodically. This auxiliary variable is given by a well-defined explicit formula that guarantees the positivity of its computed value. Findings Compared with the semi-implicit scheme and the gPAV-based scheme without the treatment on the convection term, the current scheme can provide an expanded accuracy range and achieve more accurate simulations at large (or fairly large) time step sizes. Extensive numerical experiments have been presented to demonstrate the accuracy and stability performance of the scheme developed herein. Originality/value This study shows the unconditional discrete energy stability property of the current scheme, irrespective of the time step sizes. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 29, 2024
  2. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) mandates biannual bridge inspections to assess the condition of all bridges in the United States. These inspections are recorded in the National Bridge Inventory (NBI) and the respective state’s databases to manage, study, and analyze the data. As FHWA specifications become more complex, inspections require more training and field time. Recently, element-level inspections were added, assigning a condition state to each minor element in the bridge. To address this new requirement, a machine-aided bridge inspection method was developed using artificial intelligence (AI) to assist inspectors. The proposed method focuses on the condition state assessment of cracking in reinforced concrete bridge deck elements. The deep learning-based workflow integrated with image classification and semantic segmentation methods is utilized to extract information from images and evaluate the condition state of cracks according to FHWA specifications. The new workflow uses a deep neural network to extract information required by the bridge inspection manual, enabling the determination of the condition state of cracks in the deck. The results of experimentation demonstrate the effectiveness of this workflow for this application. The method also balances the costs and risks associated with increasing levels of AI involvement, enabling inspectors to better manage their resources. This AI-based method can be implemented by asset owners, such as Departments of Transportation, to better serve communities. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024
  3. The purpose of a routine bridge inspection is to assess the physical and functional condition of a bridge according to a regularly scheduled interval. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requires these inspections to be conducted at least every 2 years. Inspectors use simple tools and visual inspection techniques to determine the conditions of both the elements of the bridge structure and the bridge overall. While in the field, the data is collected in the form of images and notes; after the field work is complete, inspectors need to generate a report based on these data to document their findings. The report generation process includes several tasks: (1) evaluating the condition rating of each bridge element according to FHWA Recording and Coding Guide for Structure Inventory and Appraisal of the Nation’s Bridges; and (2) updating and organizing the bridge inspection images for the report. Both of tasks are time-consuming. This study focuses on assisting with the latter task by developing an artificial intelligence (AI)-based method to rapidly organize bridge inspection images and generate a report. In this paper, an image organization schema based on the FHWA Recording and Coding Guide for the Structure Inventory and Appraisal of the Nation’s Bridges and the Manual for Bridge Element Inspection is described, and several convolutional neural network-based classifiers are trained with real inspection images collected in the field. Additionally, exchangeable image file (EXIF) information is automatically extracted to organize inspection images according to their time stamp. Finally, the Automated Bridge Image Reporting Tool (ABIRT) is described as a browser-based system built on the trained classifiers. Inspectors can directly upload images to this tool and rapidly obtain organized images and associated inspection report with the support of a computer which has an internet connection. The authors provide recommendations to inspectors for gathering future images to make the best use of this tool. 
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  4. Collecting massive amounts of image data is a common way to record the post-event condition of buildings, to be used by engineers and researchers to learn from that event. Key information needed to interpret the image data collected during these reconnaissance missions is the location within the building where each image was taken. However, image localization is difficult in an indoor environment, as GPS is not generally available because of weak or broken signals. To support rapid, seamless data collection during a reconnaissance mission, we develop and validate a fully automated technique to provide robust indoor localization while requiring no prior information about the condition or spatial layout of an indoor environment. The technique is meant for large-scale data collection across multiple floors within multiple buildings. A systematic method is designed to separate the reconnaissance data into individual buildings and individual floors. Then, for data within each floor, an optimization problem is formulated to automatically overlay the path onto the structural drawings providing robust results, and subsequently, yielding the image locations. The end-to end technique only requires the data collector to wear an additional inexpensive motion camera, thus, it does not add time or effort to the current rapid reconnaissance protocol. As no prior information about the condition or spatial layout of the indoor environment is needed, this technique can be adapted to a large variety of building environments and does not require any type of preparation in the postevent settings. This technique is validated using data collected from several real buildings. 
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