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Drones now a regular tool for departments of transportation, survey shows

A March survey found that 35 of 44 responding state departments of transportation (80 percent) of state departments of transportation around the country — including Nevada — are using unmanned aircraft systems.

Twenty of the 35 have incorporated drones into their daily operations. Another 15 state transportation departments are in the research phase – testing drones to determine how they can be utilized, according to the survey by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

The Nevada Department of Transportation has two aerial drones — one for aerial mapping and one for the department’s storm water division, according to spokesman Tony Illia.

“Eventually, we hope to use the storm water drone for inspecting difficult to reach infrastructure such as pipe inlets, underground culverts, and detention basins for blockages, defects and cracks,” he said.

Using drones will save the department time, money and personnel, he said, “while still safely addressing critical maintenance and operational issues.”

Combined, the 20 state departments are using drones to gather photos and videos of highway construction project, for surveying, for public education and outreach, for bridge inspections, emergency response, pavement inspections, scientific research, daily traffic control and monitoring, and for high-mast utility pole inspections.

Contact Nicole Raz at nraz@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512. Follow @JournalistNikki on Twitter.

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