The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 53-09 [New]

Use of Unmanned Aerial Systems for Highway Stormwater Inspections
[ NCHRP 20-05 (Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 4/30/2021 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Leslie C. Harwood
Fiscal Year: 2022

Preliminary Scope

Monitoring of stormwater best management practices (BMPs) is a requirement of most state departments of transportation (DOTs) construction permits and post-construction EPA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits. This monitoring typically involves expensive and staff-intensive efforts for regular inspection to ensure the BMPs are functioning as designed and are not in imminent need of maintenance (e.g., clean-out). In recent years, the use of Un-manned Aerial Systems (UAS) has evolved rapidly as a tool with the potential to both reduce the costs and improve the data collected during stormwater management inspections for state DOTs. To date, UAS monitoring of stormwater BMPs conducted by state DOTs has demonstrated promising results (or potential applications) with regard to speed, accuracy, and repeatability for several important BMP performance and maintenance factors.

The objective of this synthesis is to document the current practices of state DOTs in using UAS as a tool for stormwater BMP inspections.

Information to be gathered includes (but is not limited to):
• Extent and type of UAS used for highway stormwater BMP monitoring;
• Specific types of UAS monitoring and factors for selection (e.g., improving accuracy of monitoring efforts and reducing staff time and costs associated with routine stormwater monitoring);
• Technical limitations, problems encountered, and lessons learned in using UAS monitoring; and
• UAS field monitoring protocols for stormwater BMPs and associated data post-processing methods.

Information will be collected through a literature review, a survey of state DOTs, and follow-up interviews with selected agencies for the development of case examples. Information gaps and suggestions for research to address those gaps will be identified.

Information Sources (Partial):
• Technical Memo—Small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) Stormwater Control Measure (SCM) Inspection Pilot. (2019). Prepared for MassDOT by Comprehensive Environmental Inc.
• 2019 AASHTO UAS/Drone Survey of All 50 State DOTs. https://www.transportation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/MissionControl_Drones3.pdf
• NC State: Unmanned Aircraft (drones) in Sediment and Erosion Control. (2019). https://files.nc.gov/ncdeq/Energy%20Mineral%20and%20Land%20Resources/Erosion%20and%20Sediment%20Control/design_workshops/dec-2019-raleigh/Austin_Hairston_UAV_ESCWorkshop_2019.pdf
• The Application of Unmanned Aerial Systems in Surface Transportation. (MassDOT 2019). https://www.mass.gov/doc/volume-i-executive-summary/download
• McDonald, W. (2019). Drones in Urban Stormwater Management: A Review and Future Perspectives. Urban Water Journal, Vol. 16, Issue 7, pp. 505-518. DOI: 10.1080/1573062X.2019.1687745
• Banks, E., Cook, S. J., Frederick, G., Gill, S., Gray, J. S., Larue, T., and Wheeler, P. (2018). NCHRP Project 20-68A: “Successful Approaches for the Use of Unmanned Aerial Systems by Surface Transportation Agencies”. Scan Team Report 17-01. http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP20-68A_17-01
• Fischer, S., Lawless, E., Lu, J., and Van Fossen, K. (August 2020). Global Benchmarking Program Study on Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for Surface Transportation: Domestic Desk Review. FHWA-HIF-20-091. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/uas/hif20091.pdf
• Use of Small Unmanned Aerial Systems for Construction Inspection. (October 2019). Tech Brief. FHWA-HIF-19-096. FHWA, Office of Infrastructure, U.S. Department of Transpor-tation. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/uas/resources/hif19096.pdf
• Harper, C. (PI). (2019). NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 49-02: “Emerging Technologies for Construction Delivery”. http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=4386
• Gheisari, M., and Esmaeili, B. (2019). Applications and Requirements of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for Construction Safety. Safety Science, Vol. 118, pp. 230-240.
• MnDOT. (2018). Unmanned Aircraft System POLICY-2071545-v1. MnDOT Policy OP006. Minnesota Department of Transportation, Saint Paul. https://www.dot.state.mn.us/policy/operations/oe006.html
• Perez, M. A., Zech, W. C., and Donald, W. N. (2015). Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to Conduct Site Inspections of Erosion and Sediment Control Practices and Track Project Progression. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 2528, pp. 38-48.

TRB Staff
Leslie Harwood
Phone: 202-334-2312

Meeting Dates
First Panel: TBD
Teleconference with Consultant: TBD
Second Panel: TBD

Topic Panel

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