Sunday, April 13, 2014

Civil Engineering and the Game of Drones

Drones will be a very big tool and asset for civil engineers this century.  My guess is much sooner than later.  There is way too much interest and intellectual energy doing on around drones to consider this a passing fad.  We have also entered the perfect storm in terms of asset management - the convergence of constrained fiscal resources, aging infrastructure with longer and longer deferred maintenance/replacement schedules, and advanced robotic technology that can aid and replacement expensive labor resources.  The Game of Drones will be won by those engineers that can think more creatively about integrating technology from one field into another very different field.

Check out the following from The Friendly Drones of Michigan Tech:

"The Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) is looking into the use of drones in transportation. MTRI scientists and faculty from the main Michigan Tech campus are using unmanned aerial v"hicles (UAVs) to help the US Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovation Technology Administration (USDOT/RITA) and other agencies develop low-cost, highly-efficient ways to handle tasks that range from mapping the condition of unpaved roads to understanding traffic jams and evaluating the conditions inside culverts. The research will help transportation agencies save money and reduce risk to staff who would otherwise have to go on a roadway or bridge, or inside a confined space, to understand infrastructure conditions there.

Meanwhile, a graduate student in the School of Technology is developing a fixed-wing, autonomous aerial vehicle to take high-resolution digital images from heights of three hundred feet. And the Great Lakes Research Center is saving time, money, and lives by checking underwater pipelines, cables, and municipal water intakes with Iver 3, the latest generation of autonomous underwater vehicle."

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