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Exploring Transportation Applications of Small Unmanned Aircraft

Publication: Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Journal
Volume: 79 (12)
Pages: 32-36
Publication Date: 2009

This article describes the promise of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in transportation-related applications. Small UAVs are increasingly affordable, easy to transport and launch, and can be equipped with cameras that provide information usable for transportation agencies. Potential uses of UAVs include accident scene photography, surveying, security inspections, construction data collection, and monitoring the condition and congestion of roadways. However, there are currently limitations that hinder the use of UAVs by state departments of transportation. The limitations are linked to the need to obtain authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration, which has expressed concern about the ability of UAVs to see and avoid manned aircraft. Recent tests were conducted by the Washington State Department of Transportation to evaluate the technical capabilities and institutional concerns related to the use of UAVs. Results from these tests indicate that the UAVs can perform effective and autonomous aerial surveillance, but concerns linger about the reliability of UAVs and the consequences of a crash.

Recommended Citation:
McCormack, Edward. "Exploring transportation applications of small unmanned aircraft." Institute of Transportation Engineers. ITE Journal 79, no. 12 (2009): 32.