Thu, Nov 15, 2007
Cheaper Costs Leading To More Applications Of Technology
Here's a story about just how
quickly prices for unmanned aircraft are coming down. A scientist
at South Dakota State University has won a federal grant to
continue his studies of unmanned helicopters for safety inspections
of dirt roads.
Until recently, UAVs and their tiny cameras cost so much that
only the military could afford them... but those prices are
dropping, as the unmanned vehicles gain in popularity in a growing
number of applications.
Dave Huft, research manager at the South Dakota Department of
Transportation, tells the Argus Leader they have become much
cheaper and faster than sending out guys with hard hats and tape
measures to find roads that are too narrow, banked in such a way to
make curves unsafe, or otherwise substandard.
"It's making such a difference in the speed of the measurement
that it's going from something that was not practical, or
impossible, to something that is practical," Huft said.
Even a low-resolution image captured by a UAV could be used by a
computer "trained" to recognize road damage, according to a team
led by Chunsun Zhang, a remote sensing scientist at SDSU.
There are, of course, downsides to using UAVs to patrol
Pilots of manned aircraft are obviously concerned, of course...
but this could also be a real threat to those guys in hard hats.
After all... unmanned helicopters don't require anyone to lean on a
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