Automatic Tunnel Crack Inspection Using an Efficient Mobile Imaging Module and a Lightweight CNN


Cracks in tunnel linings are the most common tunnel defects. As early indicators of structural deterioration, cracks represent critical problems for the safety of tunnels. Several mobile tunnel inspection systems (MTISs) have been developed for tunnel crack inspection. However, due to the weak signals of cracks, these MTISs require considerable exposure time to capture high-quality tunnel images, necessitating a low travel speed. Meanwhile, traditional crack detection methods encounter difficulties in processing tunnel crack images because of their low contrast and poor continuity. To overcome these challenges, this study presents a new MTIS for fast tunnel crack inspection that consists of a novel mobile imaging module and an automatic crack detection module. The imaging module is composed of an array of high-resolution charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras, a mobile laser scanner, and a lighting array. The core of the crack detection module is a novel lightweight convolutional neural network (CNN) designed for efficient tunnel crack detection, with an effective spatial constraint strategy to guarantee crack continuity. We collected a new tunnel crack dataset consisting of 1,218 images using our mobile imaging module at a driving speed of 80 km/h. Comprehensive experiments were conducted on this dataset to evaluate the performance of our proposed network. The results demonstrate that the presented CNN can effectively detect tunnel cracks with state-of-the-art performance, achieving an F1-score greater than 0.88 and an inference speed of 17 FPS with only 3.4M model parameters. The code and data are available at

IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems