Drones in Infrastructure Maintenance: Monitoring Bridges and Roads

Drones In Infrastructure Maintenance: Monitoring Bridges And Roads


Infrastructure maintenance is the key to ensuring that roads and bridges are safe and remain in good condition. However, traditional methods of inspection can be risky, time-consuming, and expensive. That’s why drones are increasingly being used to monitor bridges and roads from above, offering a more efficient, safe, and cost-effective solution. This article will explore the benefits of using drones in infrastructure maintenance, real-life examples of their use, and how they are revolutionizing the industry.

The Benefits of Using Drones in Infrastructure Maintenance

There are several benefits of using drones in infrastructure maintenance:


Inspecting bridges and roads can be risky, especially when workers have to traverse bridges or work in traffic on busy roads. With drones, inspectors can keep their feet safely on the ground while still getting an up-close view of the infrastructure they are inspecting. Drones can help to avoid accidents, and ensure the safety of inspectors and the public.


Inspecting infrastructure can be time-consuming, especially for large-scale projects. However, drones can significantly reduce inspection time. Since drones move faster than humans, they can efficiently cover large areas within a short time. With GPS technology, drones can fly pre-determined routes and provide detailed data capture. This means that inspections can be completed faster, and the time needed for maintenance and repairs can be reduced.


Traditional methods of inspection can be expensive due to equipment rental, labour, and personnel training costs. However, the use of drones can reduce these costs significantly. With drones, the need for human intervention and equipment is minimal, and the data capture process is automated. This means inspections can be done at a lower cost, and over time, this can lead to significant cost savings.

Real-Life Examples of Drone Use in Infrastructure Maintenance

Several companies have been using drones to monitor bridges and roads, and the results have been impressive. Below are some examples:

Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)

The MDOT has been using drones to monitor and inspect bridges, especially in hard-to-reach areas, such as over water. The use of drones has helped the department save time and money, and keep inspectors safe from risky terrain. Drones have also been used to 3D map the infrastructure, providing accurate measurements and reducing the need for manual measurement. This technology has helped the MDOT identify specific areas of the bridges that need maintenance, ultimately keeping the public safe and reducing the occurrence of accidents.

Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT)

The TDOT has been using drones to inspect bridges for several years now. Drones have helped the department to improve inspections immensely, leading to a 40% reduction in time spent on inspections, and a significant cost reduction as well. The use of drones has also contributed to increased inspection accuracy since the drones can capture high-definition footage featuring a wide range of information such as structural damage and corrosion. Drones have also taken over difficult jobs such as monitoring structures that span over water, which would have been inaccessible before their use.

British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (BCMTI)

The BCMTI started using drones to inspect highways during the 2015-2016 storm season when they noticed that roadsides were failing due to heavy rains. Since then, BCMTI has been using drones to capture high-definition images and footage of highways, bridges, and other infrastructure, providing detailed analysis for their maintenance decisions. Drones have been especially useful to the department for inspecting rock slides and mudslides in hard-to-reach areas, typically involving risk to human lives. Drones are now an essential part of BCMTI’s infrastructure maintenance efforts.

How Drones are Revolutionizing the Infrastructure Maintenance Industry

The use of drones in infrastructure maintenance has been growing in popularity. However, the industry’s full potential is yet to be realized. Here are some of the ways that drones are changing the way infrastructure maintenance is done:

Providing Detailed Data

Drones can provide detailed data about the infrastructure being inspected, such as corrosion and structural damage. The data has been instrumental in identifying areas that need immediate attention, reducing maintenance costs over time. Detailed data obtained by drones also informs the type of repairs or maintenance that is needed.

Increasing Efficiency and Speed

The use of drones in infrastructure maintenance saves time, reduces labour costs, and increases efficiency. Drones fly over difficult terrain, such as water, which makes it easy to inspect large areas quickly. The data gathered can be analyzed and processed in real-time, providing immediate feedback on any maintenance needed. This efficiency plan reduces the time required for maintenance and repairs, minimizing delays and disruptions.

Improving Safety

Drones have made infrastructure maintenance much safer for workers, who no longer have to work on risky terrain like over water. Risky tasks like inspecting tall bridges and high roadways can be done from a distance using drones, reducing the chances of accidents occurring.

Reducing Costs

The use of drones reduces costs associated with inspecting infrastructure as they require minimal equipment and personnel. The costs associated with accidents or injuries to workers are also greatly reduced. Installing a drone program for infrastructure maintenance can be costly in the outset. However, the program saves significant amounts of money regarding inspections and maintenance over time, reducing liabilities and infrastructure damage caused by neglect.


Infrastructure maintenance is crucial for the safety of both drivers and the public. Traditional methods of inspection and maintenance can be time-consuming, expensive and risky. However, drones are now emerging as a viable solution for infrastructure maintenance, and their benefits are now being realized across the industry. They are providing detailed data, increasing efficiency and speed, improving safety, and reducing maintenance costs. As drone technology continues to evolve, the future of infrastructure maintenance looks bright, ensuring that the roads and bridges we drive on are safe and in excellent condition.

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