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Unmanned aircraft systems for transportation decision support.
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  • Abstract:
    Our nation relies on accurate geospatial information to map, measure, and monitor transportation infrastructure and the surrounding landscapes. This project focused on the application of Unmanned Aircraft systems (UAS) as a novel tool for improving efficiency and efficacy of geospatial data acquisition to provide decision support in five areas: 1) stream geomorphic assessment, 2) construction management, 3) resource allocation, 4) cost decision support, and 5) bridge inspections. UAS provide considerable cost-savings compared to more traditional approaches of geospatial data collection to aid in transportation decision support. In many instances, the data collected by UAS are more detailed and can be turned into meaningful information faster than other alternative approaches. These benefits enable managers to make rapid decisions with greater confidence all while reducing the cost of data acquisition. Nevertheless, UAS should not be seen as a complete replacement for other methods, such as surveying and inspections, but rather a technology that is best employed in concert with these approaches. A more conducive regulatory environment and rapid advances in UAS technology will lead to wide adoption of UAS within the transportation sector in the coming years.
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