Arkansas senator pushes plan to speed up construction projects using drone inspections

A package that has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives would create a $100 million...
A package that has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives would create a $100 million grant program for governments to use American-made drones for construction inspections
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 8:16 AM MDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - When the I-40 bridge connecting Memphis to Arkansas closed for months due to a crack last year, Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), looked for solutions to speed up construction inspections.

“It was a very, very serious problem,” Boozman said. “And during the course of that time we learned about the importance of drones.”

Boozman wants to create $100 million in grants for public projects to fund the use of drones for inspections.

“To do a bridge probably would take eight hours,” Boozman said. “A regular sized bridge. I think you can do that in an hour with a drone.”

The bill requires the drones purchased be made in America. The American Society of Civil Engineers said drone inspections are faster, but they should not be relied upon as the only inspection method.

“You take a bridge inspection for instance,” ASCE Consultant Wes Oliphant said. “You can do it much quicker with a drone, but if you start finding problems, it’s still better do go out and do it hands-on.”

The ASCE said one of the biggest advantages to drones is the ability to target which projects need more attention and time.

“You can do a heck of a lot more preliminarily with the drone, and find those priority structures that need to be looked at more closely,” Oliphant said.

The bill has bipartisan support and has already passed the House of Representatives.