Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices. Topic 52-04. Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Departments of Transportation

In the last decade, new technologies have transformed all stages of highway construction as more industry stakeholders have begun incorporating new technologies into their daily construction activities. Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) has quickly established itself as a transformative technology for highway construction. Many state departments of transportation (DOTs) have embraced its use in a number of applications. The objective of this synthesis is to document the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) by state DOTs during highway construction. Information to be gathered includes (but is not limited to): (1) Current uses of UAS for highway construction, including (but not limited to): (a) Performing routine quality inspections (b) Performing work safety inspection   (c) Measuring stockpiles   (d) Monitoring work progress   (e) Inspecting and documenting erosion and sediment control   (f) Providing aerial surveying (e.g., construction, right of way acquisition, and utility relocation)   (g) Mapping (3D modeling) of construction that cannot be seen from the ground or are in spaces where humans could be at risk.   (2) Practices for implementing UAS, including (but not limited to):   (a) Procurement of UAS application services (e.g., DOT staff or outsourcing)   (b) Selection of a platform   (c) Selection of sensors   (d) Selection of IT resources (e.g., processing software, methods of securing data, internal hardware, cloud solutions, distribution of UAS deliverables to users)   (e) Measurement of outcomes (e.g., safety, reduction in lane closure duration, increased inspector efficiency; reduced cost)   (f) Achieving public acceptance   (g) Policies, standard operating procedures, and special contract provisions   (3) Costs factors considered in making program decisions (e.g., acquisition strategies, selection of sensors, staffing)   (4) Potential obstacles of UAS applications by state DOTs, for example:   (a) legal implications (e.g., privacy, FAA regulations, registration and liability requirements) (b) technical expertise   (c) training and workforce (d) funding Information will be collected through literature review, a survey of DOTs, and follow-up interviews with selected agencies for the development of case examples. Information gaps and suggestions for research to address those gaps will be identified.


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  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $45000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-05, Topic 52-04

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Welch-Ross, Melissa

  • Performing Organizations:

    Oregon State University, Corvallis

    101 Kearney Hall
    Corvallis, OR  United States  97331
  • Principal Investigators:

    Turkan, Yelda

  • Start Date: 20201103
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01739556
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-05, Topic 52-04
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 18 2020 3:06PM