A May 2019 survey by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials finds that 49 of 50 states are using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) or drone technologies in some way. Among those state DOTs, seven out of 10 have hired hundreds of staff, including highly-skilled personnel to manage drone operations. Those state DOTs, 36 in total, also reported having 279 Federal Aviation Administration certified drone pilots on staff or approximately eight pilots per state.
“The survey is just one example of how state DOTs are investing in the next-generation workforce,” said Carlos Braceras, executive director of the Utah DOT and AASHTO’s 2018-2019 president. “Five years ago, you’d be hard pressed to find any state DOT looking to hire a drone pilot or set up a UAS program—but now we’re doing both of those things in a big way.” In March 2016, when AASHTO conducted its first UAS/Drone survey no state DOT had incorporated drones into their daily operations. “In three short years, we’ve gone from zero to 36 state DOTs executing drone missions internally,” said Jim Tymon, AASHTO executive director. “This giant leap is helping states work safer, smarter, and faster than ever before and that adds up to big savings for taxpayers and improved safety for motorists.”
To see a factsheet detailing AASHTO’s 2019 Drone Survey results go to http://tinyturl.com/drones3.