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How the Utah DoT Integrated Drones into Their Inspection Workflow

Talk about drone-use in infrastructure has been around for years now, but how many states have actually utilized UAS. One such state that has been leading the charge and building out a model UAS program is Utah. Paul Wheeler, Lead Unmanned Aircraft Systems Coordinator Utah Department of Transportation, spoke in Vegas today about the inroads his state's DoT has been making with drones.

Currently, the majority of bridge inspections across the country and in Utah are done by field workers using a combination of trucks, bucket cranes, and climbers. In these situations, the risk for injury or death is higher than one would want. Thankfully drones will fill that gap, and Wheeler and his team have already started utilizing them in interesting ways.

"It has to be done at the right time of day, but we've been using thermal imaging to detect structural faults," said Wheeler. To capture both HD video and thermal at the same time, the Utah DoT deployed a Sensefly albris. The hefty price tag and lack of stability also led them to purchase a DJI Phantom 4. "In heavy wind conditions, you don't want to put your $35,000 drone at risk," said Wheeler, noting they had also tried to use a 3DR Solo, but have since seen the platform support drop off.

Wheeler then went into detail about their drone data pipeline. Data management is still a problem, even when offloading to render farms they've experienced a crash or two while trying to render 3D maps.They've been using a combination of Map Pilot, eMotion 3, Pix4D, Bentley Context Capture, AutoDesk Recap 360 Pro, as each piece of software fulfills a unique requirement of the inspection process. Wheeler mentioned that Utah is moving away from paper plans entirely. It's a big step and it means that both the construction firms from the private sector and the state no longer see the need for 2D paper mock-ups.

When using drones the Utah DoT has reported a 40-60% decrease in manpower for a survey on high-releif terrain. This added with the ability to quickly evaluate and inspect structures and open lanes as quickly as possible has reduced time and investment.

Oct 25, 2017 6:03:35 PM

Topics: Inspection

Another Drone Distance Record Set in England

No drone distance record seems to last for long as drone professionals continue to break beyond visual line of sight flight records on a monthly basis. Chichester firm FlyLogix recently completed a 50-mile offshore round trip flight, smashing the British distance record.

Jul 27, 2017 9:47:29 AM

Topics: Inspection

GE Eyes Using Drones for Inspecting Factories, Refineries and Rail

GE may jump into the drone inspection market as it has already begun trial testing autonomous robotic "crawlers," for use in refineries, factories, and railroads according to Reuters. GE hopes to take a chunk of the $40 Billion global inspection industry.

Jun 13, 2017 11:06:07 AM

Topics: Inspection

BZ Media and Skylogic Research Release “5 Valuable Business Lessons Learned About Drones in Asset and Infrastructure Inspection”

In-depth report dives into recent data points showing how drones are adding value to and creating innovations for inspection processes

MELVILLE, N.Y., May 30, 2017 BZ Media LLC announced today the fourth in a series of critical examinations of important trends and strategies in vertical commercial drone markets, “5 Valuable Business Lessons Learned About Drones in Asset and Infrastructure Inspection.”  The free report was commissioned by BZ Media and written and produced by Skylogic Research.

May 30, 2017 10:25:56 AM

Topics: Inspection

New aerospace group SkyX to bring fully autonomous drones to oil & gas industry

SkyX – the innovative aerospace group based in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) –today announced its public launch as it prepares to secure its Round A financing. Founded by a former Captain in the Israeli Air Force and a Drone Pilot, Didi Horn, SkyX has developed ground-breaking Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – commonly known as ‘drones’ – to service the oil and gas industry. 

Developed to inspect pipelines for damage, as well as for mapping and security surveillance, SkyX’s SkyOne drones offer Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) capabilities, as well as autonomous flight and recharging. SkyOne can travel at 150km per hour for 70 min and can detect leaks, vandalism, vegetation encroachment – and more.

Apr 7, 2017 10:39:15 AM

Topics: Inspection, Startups and Partnerships, Oil and Gas

Iris Automation to advance autonomous industrial drones

Drone technology startup Iris Automation is looking to expand and improve its advanced collision-avoidance system for industrial drones with a new round of funding. The company announced it has raised US$1.5 million to commercialize its sense-and-avoid system, and to enable drones to fly autonomously.

Jan 19, 2017 9:43:24 AM

Topics: Inspection, Control Systems