City officials approve drones to monitor, inspect sites
- Spokane (Washington) Public Works Department legislators approved a plan to use drones to inspect local infrastructure, monitor ongoing projects and conduct environmental analysis, KREM 2 News reported.
- One drone, which reportedly will cost the city $15,000, is expected to be operational by the end of the summer. Legislators expect the technology to save taxpayers money by speeding up completion of public works projects in the area, KREM 2 reported.
- Spokane officials reportedly said the plan will save contractors money by decreasing overtime hours and make jobsites safer by delegating risky inspections to drones.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are a “no-brainer” for the construction industry, according to Ryan Moret of McCarthy Building Cos., and easier to adopt than one might think, he said in a recent webinar panel. The real-time data and images gathered from drones, even entry-level hobby models, can help contractors track project progress and identify issues early on, improving their ability to finish on time and within the budget.
Drones can also go where humans can’t, at least not without considerable risk. Spokane Public Works director of strategic development Marlene Feist told KREM 2 that UAVs can conduct routine inspections faster and more safely than humans, eliminating the need for extensive precautions. A drone might be used, for example, in inspecting a cell tower that a worker would otherwise have to climb.
Drones are strictly regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, however, the FAA may be getting in the way of broader industry adoption. In a recent report, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), which is chartered by Congress to advise the government on scientific matters, called the FAA’s approach to drone certifications and approvals “overly stringent.”
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