Minnesota has more than 20,000 bridges, including 3,800 state-owned bridges, which are individually inspected every 12 to 24 months. Traditional bridge inspection methods can require traffic closures and require specialized lifts, vehicles and equipment.
Since 2015, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has been conducting award-winning research into the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or “drones”) for bridge inspections. Utilizing drones equipped with protective rolling cages and cameras, then paired with 3-D modeling software, the UAS approach is able to completely inspect entire bridges and save an average of 40 percent on inspection costs. The use of UAS also can increase safety for inspection personnel and save time for travelers by reducing lane closures.
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