Remote Observation over Time (Drone in a Box)

Montana's diverse terrain and weather create unique problems for Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) Maintenance crews. Hazardous areas need to be monitored to assess risks such as avalanche and rock-slide sites. MDT Maintenance and MDT Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program would like to explore a portable, fully automated drone solution nicknamed ‘Drone in a Box’. This drone would monitor and or map hazardous sites remotely to reduce crew exposure and assess potential dangers to the traveling public. The Drone in a Box concept has been around for over a decade but only recently have we began seeing commercially available products. Most Drone in a Box solutions come with an untethered drone and operates remotely using a set of preprogrammed instructions telling the drone when to take-off, what flight path to follow, and when & where to land. Data collected during these operations is able to be accessed remotely, with the option to live stream the data in real-time. MDT Maintenance and MDT UAS Program management propose to deploy a Drone in a Box at one (or more) MDT locations where avalanche danger is common to monitor and map snow-pack over time. This research would propose to answer the following questions: (1) Is a Drone in a Box solution a cost effective and safer alternative to having maintenance crews physically inspect those areas? (2) Can the Drone in a Box solution be a reliable tool to collect the actionable data MDT needs to make accurate decisions? (3) Can mapping snow pack with a Drone in a Box solution in avalanche prone area's help predict occurrences to better prepare for incidents? (4) Can a Drone in a Box solution be an effective asset in assessing flooding issues during spring runoff?


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Montana Department of Transportation

    2701 Prospect Avenue
    P.O. Box 201001
    Helena, MT  United States  59620-1001
  • Project Managers:

    Callejas, Vaneza

  • Start Date: 20230614
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01888767
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Montana Department of Transportation
  • Files: RIP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Jul 26 2023 1:14PM