The MnDOT Office of Aeronautics and Aviation was recognized last month for the drone research project that also involved the Office of Bridge and Structures and MnDOT Research Services.
The Humphrey School of Public Affairs, in partnership with the Bush Foundation, presented a State Government Innovation Award to recognize great work and to encourage an environment that allows agencies to deliver better government services to Minnesotans through creativity, collaboration and efficiency.
The project, titled Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAV) Bridge Inspection Demonstration Project, found that using drones for bridge inspections improves safety, lessens traffic disruption and reduces work time. For one type of bridge, inspection time shrank from eight days to five.
In the video, Jennifer Zink, MnDOT state bridge inspection engineer, explains the project, along with Tara Kalar, MnDOT associate legal counsel; Cassandra Isackson, director of MnDOT Aeronautics; and Bruce Holdhusen, MnDOT Research program engineer.
The initial drone project drew significant media coverage and a lot of attention from other state departments of transportation from all over the country.
A second phase of the project was approved year and is currently underway. A third phase is already in the planning stages.
See how researchers at the Roadway Safety Institute (RSI), led by the University of Minnesota, are working to reduce crashes and save lives on our nation’s roadways in a new video.
The video features RSI director Max Donath and researchers from across the region who are working on a breadth of projects, ranging from reducing crashes at rail grade crossings to improving road safety on tribal lands. The video also highlights a few of RSI’s education efforts, including a museum exhibit designed to introduce preteens to safety concepts.
RSI was established as the Region 5 University Transportation Center in 2013 and is housed at CTS. MnDOT is a key partner for RSI, funding a variety of safety-focused projects by RSI researchers.
For more information about RSI, visit the Institute’s website.
In the above video, University of Minnesota-Duluth Associate Professor Ryan Rosandich tests a prototype of a robotic arm he developed to paint messages and markings on roadways. He calls the machine “The MnDOT Robot.”
During a test run in October 2015, the MnDOT robot painted a right-turn arrow and the word “ahead” on pavement at MnDOT’s Pike Lake station in Duluth.
Rosandich hopes commercial companies will show an interest in further developing his proof-of-concept technology into something that road authorities can use regularly to make work easier, faster and safer for their employees.
Companies interested in commercializing this technology can contact Andrew Morrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: The paint used in the above demonstration was diluted due to the cold weather at the time of the demonstration and does not reflect the condition of the paint expected in a typical application.