Drones Are Making Their Way Into Bridge Inspection

Most drivers know that lane closures cause traffic jams.  So it makes sense to avoid lane closures at almost any cost, right?

Many states think so, and that is why they are increasingly turning to drones as a way to minimize the impact on traffic when conducting bridge inspections or clearing vehicle crashes.
The GDOT could be using drones to monitor traffic in the next few years.  The department commissioned a Georgia Tech study in 2014 that found 40 different ways the agency could use unmanned aerial vehicles.  The $75,000 research project was conducted by Havier Irizarry and Eric N. Johnson.

GDOT will soon embark on the second phase of the study, which will look more closely at the practical application, according to the GDOT.

A March 2016 survey by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials found that 33 state departments of transportation either are using drones, or have studied, tested or developed policies for drone use.  For example, the state of Ohio has used drones to collect data about freeway conditions, intersection movement and monitoring parking lots.

Another popular use for drones is helping transportation engineers maintain roads and bridges. Typical bridge inspection involving shutting down several lanes of traffic so that workers can be hoisted in bucket trucks.

Drones could change that by letting state transportation engineers examine bridges remotely. That makes the process faster, safer and less expensive. Drones can produce 3D images by combining thermal, infrared and photography cameras.  The images can then be examined to determine whether repairs are needed.

Compared to a typical bridge inspection, which takes about 8 hours and costs about $4,600, a drone inspection takes about 2 hours and costs only about $250.
It’s looking good for Drones these days!