Ohio officials are launching a new solution to monitor traffic conditions along state highways with drone technology.
DriveOhio’s UAS Center has partnered with the Ohio State University College of Engineering to deploy a three-year study to discover if drones can alleviate both traffic snafus as well as unsafe road conditions.
“We are looking for innovative ways to integrate technology into our transportation systems. This project will help us explore the intersection between autonomous and connected vehicles on land and in the air,” DriveOhio Executive Director Jim Barna said. “The goal is to understand how we can better manage traffic, roadway incidents, and roadway conditions using advanced technology and data analysis.”
The project will also test the feasibility of autonomous and e-connected vehicles along a 35-mile stretch of U.S. 33 known as the 33 Smart Mobility Corridor. Drones will monitor traffic and incident response along the corridor in conjunction with the state’s current fixed-location traffic camera system. The system will include sensors and telemetry along the roadway feeding data to the Ohio Traffic Management Center.
“One of the keys to better utilizing unmanned aircraft is to ensure they will not pose a threat to other aircraft traveling in the area. This research project will make the development of that safety system a priority so that other aircraft operations such as package delivery and air taxi services can be explored down the road,” said Fred Judson, Director of DriveOhio’s UAS Center.
DriveOhio launched in January 18 as a center within the Ohio Department of Transportation that “brings together those who are responsible for building infrastructure in Ohio with those who are developing the advanced mobility technologies needed to allow the state’s transportation system to reach its full potential.”
In 2016, the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission announced plans to deploy a SenseFly Albris over the Sandusky River Bridge. The 970-foot-span bridge includes one of the turnpike’s busiest stretches of highway. Inspecting the whole infrastructure can prove challenging as well as dangerous for workers who often must dangle under the girders of the bridge.
That same year, Ohio law-enforcement officials began to use drones to complement or even replace more expensive helicopters. Aeron Labs Inc. taught local police and fire departments the basics of drone deployment.
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