Feasibility Study to Determine the Economic and Operational Benefits of Utilizing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
Johnson, Eric N.
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This project explored the feasibility of using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) in Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) operations. The research team conducted 24 interviews with personnel in four GDOT divisions. Interviews focused on (1) the basic goals of the operators in each division, (2) their major decisions for accomplishing those goals, and (3) the information requirements for each decision. Following an interview validation process, a set of UASs design characteristics that fulfill user requirements of each previously identified division was developed. A “House of Quality” viewgraph was chosen to capture the relationships between GDOT tasks and potential UAS aiding those operations. As a result, five reference systems are proposed. The UAS was broken into three components: vehicle, control station, and system. This study introduces a variety of UAS applications in traffic management, transportation and construction disciplines related to DOTs, such as the ability to get real time, digital photographs/videos of traffic scenes, providing a "bird’s eye view" that was previously only available with the assistance of a manned aircraft, integrating aerial data into GDOT drawing software programs, and dealing with restricted or complicated access issues when terrain, area, or the investigated object make it difficult for GDOT personnel to conduct a task. The results of this study could lead to further research on design, development, and field-testing of UAVs for applications identified as beneficial to the Department.