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Survey finds 35 state DOTs now utilize drones

A new survey from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has found that at least 35 member states of the US Department of transportation (DOT) are using aerial drones regularly or testing them for possible use.

The unmanned flying machines have been used by the member states to save time, money and the lives of employees at the time of inspecting bridges or other infrastructure or during evaluation of road problems in the wake of heavy storms or natural disasters.

Out of the 44 state DOTs which took part in the survey, 20 said that they have incorporated drones into their daily operations, while another 15 DOTs have started testing drones to determine how they can be utilised.

AASHTO executive director Bud Wright said: “This is another example of how state DOTs are advancing innovation to improve safety and productivity for the travelling public.

“Drones are being used to significantly cut the time it takes to gather data, which is leading to major time and cost savings.”

The AASHTO survey further revealed that 20 of the responding DOTs are deploying drones to collect photos and videos, including infrared of highway construction projects, in addition to bridge inspections, surveying, pavement evaluations, scientific research and daily traffic control.

In order to operate and maintain the unmanned aerial system fleets, 27 of the state DOTs have also added full-time employees.

According to AASHTO, North Carolina is an early adopter of drone technology and is still exploring new ways to utilise drones to keep people off the roads.

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