The Application of Unmanned Aerial Systems In Surface Transportation - Volume II-A: Development of a Pilot Program to Integrate UAS Technology to Bridge and Rail Inspections

Central to the conduct of this research was a review of current procedures used in State Department of Transportation (State DOT) bridge and rail inspections and the experiences of these State DOTs in integrating unmanned aircraft system (UAS) technologies into such inspections. Based on this review, the University of Massachusetts (UMass) research team developed and tested practical procedures and protocols to guide Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) in the integration of UAS technologies into bridge and rail inspections. It was determined that the major factors that affect the success of UAS integration into the bridge and rail inspections relate to the selection of the proper types of UAS platforms and sensors. It is recommended that a rotorcraft UAS platform be used for the majority of bridge inspections and fixed wing platform for general surveys of extended areas, such as railroad right-of-way. Depending on the type and purpose of the inspection, thermal and light detection and ranging (LiDAR) imaging cameras were found to be the most useful sensor technologies.

  • Record URL:
  • Corporate Authors:

    University of Massachusetts, Amherst

    Transportation Center, 130 Natural Resources Road
    Amherst, MA  United States  01003

    Massachusetts Department of Transportation

    Office of Transportation Planning
    Boston, MA  United States 

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Plotnikov, Michael
    • Ni, Daiheng
    • Price, David
    • Lyman, Christopher
  • Publication Date: 2019-12


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 74p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01771777
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 19-010
  • Created Date: May 21 2021 10:54AM