Woolpert has been contracted by the Indiana Department of Transportation ( INDOT) to develop a strategic plan and concept of operations for Indiana’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) program. The firm will create policies, procedures and standards for INDOT to manage, share and align with designated agencies throughout the state.
“INDOT wants to ensure that the state of Indiana is flying UAS safely and effectively,” said Thomas Mackie, Woolpert vice president and geospatial program director. “People and organizations across the country are attempting to integrate drones into their business processes, due to the many benefits of this technology. But often these processes are inconsistent and untested, and therefore unsafe.”
Mackie said Woolpert was brought in to integrate UAS into Indiana operations accurately and effectively.
“INDOT wants to do this right the first time, so they are standardizing the integration and application of UAS to share resources and address state needs,” he said. “This will maximize the value and efficiency of the state’s UAS technology and minimize its risk by exercising industry best practices and working within the appropriate regulatory framework.”
Woolpert has worked with INDOT and other state agencies for 30 years. The firm recently completed a contract with Indiana to acquire and process high-resolution orthoimagery and lidar data throughout the state as part of IndianaMap, which houses and shares Indiana’s geospatial data and services. This UAS contract extends and complements the firm’s support of these technologies across the state.
Woolpert has decades of transportation engineering and survey experience, works directly with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulatory leaders and provides strategic consulting services across multiple markets. Woolpert was the first surveying and aerial mapping company approved by the FAA to fly UAS commercially in designated airspace in 2014 and has successfully implemented UAS into the operations of other state departments of transportation, airports and governmental agencies.
“UAS implementations are not one size fits all,” Mackie said. “Organizations need to outline what they want to accomplish, determine the appropriate system specific to their needs and define the process that will help them achieve their objectives. We help them do that.”
Woolpert has assisted with UAS projects that provide floodplain analysis, landslide mitigation, road and highway survey, construction monitoring and management, asset inspections, site selection, perimeter monitoring, and mapping and surveying. Mackie said that Woolpert’s architecture, engineering and geospatial (AEG) experience has made the firm uniquely suited for UAS.
“Our long history supporting the AEG and mapping needs of federal, state, and local governments and agencies has well prepared us to lead operations and heighten the effectiveness of UAS,” Mackie said. “We employ UAS across the many markets and disciplines within Woolpert, allowing us to explore and advance this technology in real-world situations. This advantage sets us apart from the competition and inspires us to retain that leading edge.”