IDOT looks at expanding drone program

Snow plows are still going to clear the roads, and tractors are still going to cut the grass, but the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is moving beyond just the big orange trucks with a pair of new drones.

IDOT spokesman Brian Williamsen said the agency has two drones in the air. If things work out, they may have more.

“It could do (tasks) ranging from surveying work, maybe getting into some 3-D imaging, to maybe looking at highway work zones,” Williamsen said.

Williamsen said that’s been part of the test run for the drones.

“We’ve been using the drones at some of the larger-scale road construction projects that recently wrapped up — one on I-57/I-70 by Effingham and another one on I-155 by Morton,” Williamsen said.

It cost the state about $9,000 for the pair. Williamsen said it takes two people — a pilot and a camera operator — to fly them.

Williamsen said that if things go well, the drones could play a role in everything from bridge-safety inspections to spotting for emergency responders after a tornado or blizzard.

–Illinois News Network

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