Keeping a country's transportation infrastructure in working condition is a constant job, and often requires road or rail closures in order to perform checks and surveys to see what needs to be prioritized for repair or replacement. In Ireland, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) is looking at acquiring one multi-rotor drone and a fixed-wing craft to perform inspections remotely without needing to shut down roads.
TII communications director Sean O'Neill told The Irish Times that "Currently there are men and women out there who have to set up traffic management and divert roads to conduct inspections but that can all be avoided by being able to put a drone in the air. Surveys are the bread and butter for many of our staff, who have become very well versed in drones over the last couple of years. It is going to make much of our work more efficient."
TII has a budget of up €95,000 ($120,000) for the program, which not only includes the investment in the drones but technical support, training, flight planning and photo processing as well.
TII also plans to use the drones to look for congestion on Dublin's tram lines and is considering the use of the UAVs to help plan Dublin's New Metro North high-speed transit link. The TII's interest in drones was kindled by seeing how other Irish industries and organizations were using the technology. Farmers use drones to monitor their crops, check soil conditions, and track livestock, while Dublin's Fire Brigade uses drone surveillance to locate and fight fires. Even the Dublin City Council is using drones to track illegal dumping.