Transport Infrastructure Ireland Hires Drone Company Korec to Survey Ireland's Roads

Ireland's state agency responsible for overseeing nearly 800 miles of roads has decided to use drones to more efficiently assess their integrity.

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Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) is set to pay Dublin-based drone company Korec $117,076 (100,000 euros) to help survey and assess the quality of the country’s roads, and according to The Irish Times, has awarded the company a five-year contract to do so. 

The state agency responsible for Ireland’s roads and public transportation infrastructure has conventionally relied on manual labor to analyze the structural integrity of the country’s road systems, but according to TII spokesperson Sean O’Neill, drones are extraordinary more efficient while simultaneously keeping workers out of harm’s way. O’Neill claims that UAVs can cover the same amount of ground in one singular flight in under an hour that would traditionally take a ground-based crew up to two weeks.

“As a result multiple flights can be undertaken in one day based on requirements,” said O’Neill. “UAVs reduce the requirement for traffic management which reduces the risk to staff and the traveling public as well as cost savings from not having to do traffic management.”

As it stands, TII is responsible for 758 miles (1,220 kilometers) of Ireland’s roads. In addition to the obvious increase in efficiency regarding conventional methods of surveying the infrastructure, and decreasing the risk involved in manually doing so, the scheduled implementation of two drones as an alternative will also lessen the burden for various other factions, and requisite planning phases.

“UAVs will reduce the need for procurement or aerial surveys for route designs from third parties through the use of planes,” said O’Neil. “You typically do multiple surveys as part of the early design stage. Therefore the investment in this technology offers a significant savings in time and resources.”

In practical terms, the five-year contract will see Korec’s two drones collect topographic data, map the aerial corridors the unmanned aerial vehicles are performing in, inspect structural integrity, and monitoring any irregularities in deformations. These datasets will then help construct digital surface models, digital elevation models, 3D models, and animations representing the drones’ flight paths. The decision by TII to move forward through unmanned aerial systems is partly a result of the agency’s successes in drone implementation in agricultural and construction endeavors in the recent past. 

Ireland’s reliance on sophisticated drone technology in assessing the quality of the country’s roads could mean more accurate data results, increased efficiency, and informed decision-making.