America’s transportation infrastructure is in need of new solutions that help to build safer roads and bridges. According to an American Society of Civil Engineers’ report, more than 200 million trips are taken daily across deficient bridges in the nation’s largest cities. Luckily, technology advancements are being widely adopted by transportation agencies, state departments of transportation and government agencies across the country and are greatly improving construction processes. These three innovations are changing the way our nation’s roads and bridges are inspected, corrected and built.
Skycatch EVO3 Drone (Image courtesy of Skycatch)
Commercial and civilian drone use is on the rise at a rapid rate, with the market poised to surpass $2 billion in the next 10 years. One industry in particular taking advantage of this new technology is transportation infrastructure. What has previously been a pen and paper industry, transportation construction sites have begun to adopt the usage of drones to increase project efficiencies and capture live data. The Skycatch Evolution 3 is the first fully autonomous, commercial unmanned aerial vehicle which has the ability to takeoff, fly mapping missions and land, all on its own. This technology is allowing workers at construction sites to take 2D and 3D measurements, import and overlay construction plans and detect changes in progress, all from the sky. The data that’s collected by the drone is then uploaded to the Skycatch dashboard where workers can track all of their processes and even collaborate with each other in real-time. Technology advancements like this are allowing work sites to drastically reduce project completion time while also making workers jobs safer.
Project Inspection Software
The use of smart phones and tablets may seem like a no brainer to most, however the transportation industry has never been known to be an early adopter. So what’s so groundbreaking about this industry finally jumping on board with technology? The answer to that is expansive, mobile technology applications are changing the way transportation infrastructure projects are being completed. For instance, HeadLight, a software system built with real-time direct input from project inspectors on the job, is designed to provide easier, more effective and less-costly ways for teams to perform onsite project inspections. The HeadLight tool replaces the current, manual process of project inspections which is slow and many times can lead to delays in project improvements. Workers equipped with a tablet and the HeadLight software can easily take pictures, capture notes, create reports and make real-time updates in the field, all tasks that once would have taken a worker hours to complete from an office.
Three-dimensional technologies are revolutionizing the transportation industry in a number of ways, whether it’s taking trucks off the road, allowing parts to be created onsite or simplifying the model building and mapping process. 3D printing is allowing infrastructure projects to build models and produce parts on location that once would have needed to be created elsewhere and then shipped to project locations, this results in cost and time-saving efficiencies. Additionally, 3D printing allows for quick fixes if a model’s scale or a part’s size is incorrect, rather than waiting the days or weeks it might have once taken to correct the error.
Three-dimensional scanning, such as tools designed by Paracosm, is also making a play in the transportation infrastructure arena, changing the way blueprints and designs are being created and shared. 3D scanning is allowing workers onsite to scan an entire area collecting data and laser-accurate measurements that were once susceptible to human error. Once a 3D scan has been created, workers can then review the data collected and share with others for full collaboration. These 3D scanning processes are also creating huge time-saving efficiencies through collecting more accurate data and minimizing additional trips to the field when errors are found.
While these new technologies may seem basic or late to the game, they truly are game changing in the way transportation infrastructure projects are being completed. They are creating safer work environments, more accurate data collection processes, time and cost-saving efficiencies and that’s just the start. Implementing technological advancements across the industry will greatly improve work processes for years to come and revolutionize the way our nation’s roads and bridges are being constructed and maintained.
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