Connecticut DOT Testing UAVs for Bridge Inspections


The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) will be using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to perform inspections of the longest bridges in the state.

The CTDOT says the drone flights, taking place on Dec. 15 at the Gold Star Memorial Bridges, are part of its ongoing mission to improve and evaluate its operations and to assess the usefulness and functionality of new technologies.

The testing process will gauge the UAV’s ability to provide access to and to photograph the northbound bridge’s areas that are typically difficult to reach via traditional means. In October, the CTDOT completed a full routine inspection of the Gold Star Memorial Bridges using lifts, snooper trucks, and ropes and climbers.

The Gold Star Memorial Bridges consist of two structures carrying I-95 northbound and southbound, respectively, over the Thames River between Groton and New London. The structures are roughly 1 mile each, with the main spans rising approximately 100 feet over the river.

Upon completion, the CTDOT will perform an analysis of the results, including the advantages and disadvantages of the system and its effectiveness at gathering detailed information in comparison to previous conventional inspections.

The outcome of the review will help determine the potential for UAVs to improve upon or supplement bridge inspection processes on select structures throughout the state, says the CTDOT.

“This is an important step for our agency: the testing of a new technology with the potential to improve results, efficiencies and safety for the public,” says Commissioner James P. Redeker. “The willingness to examine new technologies – to innovate and to keep an open mind – is critical if we are to find better ways of doing business, and I applaud the department’s bridge safety division for initiating this test.”

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