Evaluating the Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Transportation Purposes

Advances in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology have enabled these tools to become easier to use and afford. In a budget-limited environment, these flexible remote sensing technologies can help address transportation agency needs in operations, maintenance, and asset management while increasing safety and decreasing cost. This project tested and evaluated five main UAV platforms with a combination of optical, thermal, and light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensors to assess critical transportation infrastructure and issues such as bridges, confined spaces, traffic flow, and roadway assets. A State of the Practice report was completed, and a series of lab testing were accomplished to ensure practicality and safe operations. Field demonstrations were completed at bridges, pump stations, and conferences. The project team gave a series of technical demonstrations at the Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress in Detroit in September, 2014, enabling outreach to a wide domestic and international audience who gained understanding of the advanced research that Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is funding. These demonstrations showed that UAV technologies provide many advantages to helping MDOT cost-effectively assess, manage, and maintain its resources, providing benefit to staff and the traveling public.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Appendix includes the 2013 report, "State of the Practice for Remote Sensing of Transportation Infrastructure Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)".
  • Corporate Authors:

    Michigan Technological University

    1400 Townsend Drive
    Houghton, Michigan  United States  49931

    Michigan Department of Transportation

    Office of Research and Best Practices, 425 West Ottawa, P.O. Box 30050
    Lansing, MI  United States  48909
  • Authors:
    • Brooks, Colin
    • Dobson, Richard J
    • Banach, David M
    • Dean, David
    • Oommen, Thomas
    • Wolf, Rudiger Escobar
    • Havens, Timothy C
    • Ahlborn, Theresa M
    • Hart, Ben
  • Publication Date: 2015-4-7


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 201p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01563469
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: RC-1616, MTRI-MDOTUAV-FR-2014
  • Contract Numbers: 2013-067
  • Created Date: May 18 2015 11:03AM