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East Lansing – Researchers are preparing for the next phase of an engineering study that uses the Mackinac Bridge to test a new type of sensor that can help identify maintenance needs.

The sensors are powered solely by vibrations from traffic. The first 20 prototypes were installed in 2016 on the nearly 5-mile long bridge that connects Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas.

Experts with Michigan State University and Washington University in St. Louis say they have proven their durability and performed as intended.

The next step is adding up to 2,000 of the tiny devices to explore the logistics of large-scale deployment and provide useful data to the Mackinac Bridge Authority. Installation will begin this summer.

Project leaders say the sensing technology will collect data on bridge conditions in a less expensive way.

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