If you practice the other kind of “IFR” flying (as in “I Follow Roads”) then you may have to start paying extra attention — and look out below. The Federal Highway Administration and the Georgia Department of Transportation have joined to study using drones to enhance highway safety.
The pilotless vehicles would perform duties such as bridge inspections, laser terrain mapping and even traffic patrol. A story posted yesterday on LiveScience.com outlined the upcoming year-long study, funded by a $75,000 grant. Georgia is one of the states hoping to host a test area for unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and the CONECTech Lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the participants in the funded study.
The timetable set by the FAA for integrating drones into U.S. airspace is already behind schedule as the first deadlines for selecting test sites have come and gone. The study expects to help determine what roles drones could safely fill in highway safety and how they can save money while relieving humans of the riskier and more mundane tasks currently on the agenda.