Kansas Department of Transportation crews to use drones for bridge, tower inspections

Posted at 5:54 PM, Nov 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-10 19:40:21-05

There are 5,000 state bridges in Kansas. Crews usually inspect them on the ground, maybe with a camera and a big pickup truck equipped with the latest technology.

That's about to change. 

"This is basically a pickup truck that flies," Merrill Atwater with the Kansas Department of Transportation said. "But it gets them to places and cracks and crevices and sees things in different colors."

KDOT crews are now testing drones to inspect bridges and towers. 

They've teamed up with Federal Aviation Administration leaders to come up with at plan to make this more efficient, safer for inspectors and more cost effective for you, the taxpayer. 

"If we can save money, increase efficiency and at the same time ensure safety, is that not something you'd want as a taxpayer," Atwater asked 41 Action News.

For KDOT, this is the first of many cooperative efforts with Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) leaders. 

No word yet on when drones will begin inspecting state bridges. 

Atwater says more research and tests have to be conducted, but he expects the program to roll out soon.