Drones are being used to inspect vegetation and highways assets around the road network in Kent.
Kent County Council’s highways maintenance provider Amey will also use the drones identify any defects in power and water utilities infrastructure.
The footage captured from the drone will be used to better understand the health and ecosystem of the soft landscape, highways assets as well as the condition of the power and water infrastructure assets in the area. This will enable the county council and utility asset owners to manage their assets better in the future.
Carol Valentine, Kent’s highways project manager, said: “These trials will help us better understand the health and ecosystem of our soft landscape, highways assets and the condition of power and water infrastructure. The trial data will be assessed, and we could potentially be using this technology across the county in the future.”
The trial is part of the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT) SMART Places Live Labs programme.
It will look at how effective the technology can be used for capturing wildlife habitats, understanding any future repair works regarding utilities infrastructure whilst still using the technology for highway inspections.
Ramin Akhyani, programme manager at Amey, said: “This is a great opportunity to investigate the potential of using drones for capturing the condition of highways assets, soft vegetation and utilities in the area as well as highlighting the benefits of using drones in the areas of health and safety, cost, data and proactive asset management.”
Russell Coleman, head of market and business innovation at Collins Aerospace, said: “Collins are excited to be working in partnership with AmeyVTOL to help Kent County Council explore the use of remote sensors on aerial platforms to collect data on assets and infrastructure. By generating highly detailed measureable digital replicas, a full record of assets and infrastructure can be captured and utilised to provide an analysis of current asset condition and to provide a snapshot in time for future automatic change detection.”
The ADEPT SMART Places Live Labs programme is a two-year £22.9m project funded by the Department for Transport and supported by project partners SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business, EY, Kier, 02, Ringway and WSP.
Giles Perkins, programme director for Live Labs said: “The widescale use of drone technologies could provide significant benefits. This application in Kent will help illustrate new and innovative ways of collecting data that is quicker than traditional methods but also helps keep those who work on our highways out of harm’s way.”
Nine local authorities are working on projects to introduce digital innovation across SMART mobility, transport, highways, maintenance, data, energy and communications. Live Labs is part of ADEPT’s SMART Places programme to support the use of digital technology in place-based services.
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