Could drones be used to conduct Lincoln road surveys?

On Wednesday, the Lincoln Transportation and Utilities Department used a drone for the first time to conduct a road survey on Adams Street.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – On Wednesday, the city of Lincoln used a drone to survey road conditions for the very first time.

The Lincoln Transportation and Utilities improvement project took place along Adams Street from N 36th to N 46th Streets.

“We’re out here today to take drone photography so that we can analyze the distress of the pavement, and then based on that imagery, we’ll take it back into the office and look at the distressed pavement areas that we will need to remove and replace so that we can end up with a smooth riding surface for the traveling public,” senior engineer Kris Humphrey said.

Traditional road surveys typically require two LTU employees on the ground with traffic control behind them. Humphrey says employee safety is one of the biggest benefits of using drone technology to survey roads.

“Instead of having people walking on the project with traffic, we’re able to shut down the road for a couple hours, and then do all of that analysis back in the office, so it’s a lot safer,” she said.

The drone survey was conducted block-by-block in five to 10 minute intervals. Drone surveys take a fraction of the time that a traditional survey does.

“Instead of 16 hours of the traffic being inconvenienced, we could reduce that to only two hours,” Humphrey said.

Could drones be the future of road surveys? Only time will tell.

“We will be evaluating what happens today and taking a look and seeing where we want to utilize this on other projects around town,” Humphrey said. “It’s pretty exciting. It’s a new technology and we’re really looking forward to all the savings that it can do with not only this street, but other streets around.”

Humphrey says today’s survey will give LTU a good gauge on factors they need to consider for future drone surveys, including how many vehicles use a specific road, what impact the survey has on traffic, and the overall benefits of using drones.

You can learn on any city street closures here or by using the Waze mobile app.

Categories: Lancaster, Nebraska News, News