Drones could soon take flight in Ohio to keep you safer on the roads

FREMONT, Ohio-- ODOT and the Ohio Turnpike Commission are teaming up to explore how using drones could keep drivers safer on the road.

Tuesday, officials demonstrated how drones could be used as a more efficient way to inspect bridges. Randy Cole, the executive director of the Ohio Turnpike Commission, said drones may decrease the amount of time and money it takes to evaluate bridges in addition to keeping crews out of harm’s way.

“We're all excited about creating a network of all the different ways we can use drones to work safely and better then we can use people,” said Cole.

The drone used during the demonstration was valued at $35,000. Officials said it could be used as a preliminary way to inspect bridges that are difficult or dangerous for crews to access.

“It's safer for the inspector. You don't have a guy trying to climb onto the bridge, holding onto the bridge when he should be inspecting the bridge,” said David Gallagher with the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center.

Cole said more drone demonstrations are planned across the state. In order to determine how adding the technology would make inspections more efficient without disturbing drivers.

“You have to possibly impact motorists by closing down lanes; you have to put people at risk by having them hang over a bridge and put scaffolding up. We can do bridge inspections more safely and efficiently."

While in the sky, the drone used during the demonstration takes pictures that are routed to flight crews on the ground. Giving them a birds-eye view without leaving the ground. According to the Ohio Turnpike Commission, no drones have been purchased yet for inspection purposes in the state.