THE INSPECTION OF STRUCTURES like roads, highways, bridges, tunnels and railroads is a task that can often be made more efficient, effective and safer with drone technology. The traditional costs associated with inspecting these pieces
of infrastructure are often so exorbitant that officials will often simply avoid performing the task. That neglect is likely a factor in the new administration’s push to transform America’s infrastructure.

It’s expensive and sometimes dangerous to send a survey crew to monitor changes that take place over years or even decades, but the pictures and videos that can be easily captured by drones are only part of their appeal. Data taken from new sensor technology will open up opportunities related to preventative maintenance that will help resolve issues before they turn into actual problems. Utilizing UAVs also keeps people on the ground and away from the dangers associated with the inspection of structures like bridges and tunnels, regardless of their condition.

For many operators and organizations though, these benefits were all theoretical in nature. While commercial operators could secure a Section 333 Exemption to operate a drone for commercial purposes, many were wary of going through the process and meeting the significant threshold the FAA had established to receive it. With Part 107 becoming the law of the land in the United States in late 2016, all of that changed.