FHWA Unmanned Aerial System Tech Brief Development and Every Day Counts Round 5 Support

Project Details



DTFH6113D00009, TO 693JJ318F000157






Federal Highway Administration

Principal Investigator
Katelyn Freeseman
Co-Principal Investigator
Steven Tritsch

About the research

This project is a task order under the main Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)-sponsored project, “Technical and Support Services for the FHWA Construction Management Team.”

The objective of research is to produce a series of tech briefs that focus upon the capabilities of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) technologies, as well as the coordinating and delivering of webinars covering the developed content. The project also includes support for the Every Day Counts 5 (EDC-5) Summits and development of an implementation plan. These combined efforts will advance the state of the practice with respect to the use of UAS technologies.

UAS technologies are not necessarily new as they have existed for well over 150 years as militaries sought to attack adversaries without putting their own forces at risk. Certainly, some of the earliest unmanned aerial vehicles are uncontrolled balloons carrying ordinates. Even more, hobbyists have been flying UAS for well over 40 years. Recently, the availability and ease of use of UAS has seen a rapid growth as computing and sensing technologies have made them safer and easier to operate. Such availability has opened the door to leveraging these technologies for the construction, management, and operation of infrastructure. The potential for UAS is exciting and creates opportunities to “see” local, regional, and global transportation systems from a perspective never before possible.

Unmanned Aerial Systems for Emergency Management of Flooding Webinar

Webinar held on April 29, 2018 featuring Dr. Robin Murphy, Raytheon Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University and Director of the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue. The webinar covers using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for emergency response efforts, particularly focusing upon flooding events. The webinar highlights lessons learned and best practices from past efforts, including examples from the response efforts associated with Hurricane Katrina (‘05), Harvey (‘17), and Michael (‘18).

Unmanned Aerial Systems for Construction Applications Webinar

Webinar held on July 10, 2019, featuring Paul Rogers, Principal at North Carolina based KPR Engineering, and Basil Yap, Program Manager for the NCDOT Aviation Division’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program. This presentation focused upon using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for construction applications. Topics included QA/QC, construction progress monitoring, and UAS platform needs specific to each use. Rogers and Yap also discuss collaboration between state agencies and private consultants based upon North Carolina’s past experience.

The Use of Small Unmanned Aerial Systems for Land Surveying Webinar

Webinar held on December 5, 2019, featuring Paul Wheeler, UAS Program Manager at the Utah Department of Transportation Division of Aeronautics, will present on using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for land surveying. Topics will include surveying tools, rotorcraft versus fixed-wing UAS, GPS equipment, ground control points, flight planning, photogrammetry point cloud versus LiDAR point cloud, and QA/QC.

Use of Small Unmanned Aerial Systems for Bridge Inspection Webinar

Webinar held on Dec. 12, 2019, featuring David Cheyne and Brian Merrill of Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. This presentation focused upon using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for bridge inspection. Topics include advantages of UAS for bridge inspections, which type of bridge inspection will benefit, UAS platforms and sensors, FAA regulations regarding UAS for bridge inspections, and UAS limitations.