Assessment and evaluation of damage in civil infrastructure is most often conducted visually, despite its subjectivity and qualitative nature in locating and verifying damaged areas. This study aims to present a new workflow to analyze non-temporal point clouds to objectively identify surface damage, defects, cracks, and other anomalies based solely on geometric surface descriptors that are irrespective of point clouds’ underlying geometry. Non-temporal, in this case, refers to a single dataset, which is not relying on a change detection approach. The developed method utilizes vertex normal, surface variation, and curvature as three distinct surface descriptors to locate the likely damaged areas. Two synthetic datasets with planar and cylindrical geometries with known ground truth damage were created and used to test the developed workflow. In addition, the developed method was further validated on three real-world point cloud datasets using lidar and structure-from-motion techniques, which represented different underlying geometries and exhibited varying severity and mechanisms of damage. The analysis of the synthetic datasets demonstrated the robustness of the proposed damage detection method to classify vertices as surface damage with high recall and precision rates and a low false-positive rate. The real-world datasets illustrated the scalability of the damage detection method and its ability to classify areas as damaged and undamaged at the centimeter level. Moreover, the output classification of the damage detection method automatically bins the damaged vertices into different confidence intervals for further classification of detected likely damaged areas. Moving forward, the presented workflow can be used to bolster structural inspections by reducing subjectivity, enhancing reliability, and improving quantification in surface-evident damage.
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