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DRBA conducts inspection trials of Delaware Memorial Bridge using drone technology

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The Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) conducted an inspection this week of the Delaware Memorial Bridge Twin Span using an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) or drone.

Keystone Aerial Surveys, Inc., based at Northeast Philadelphia Airport, in cooperation with WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff, utilized an Inspire Pro 1 and Maverik X8 to perform the inspection services for DRBA as a test of the technology.   The test inspection flights occurred on the New Jersey side of the bridge complex on Tuesday, April 5.

“The Delaware Memorial Bridge Twin Span is subjected to a rigorous inspection program every year,” said Shekhar Scindia, DRBA project engineer. “Drones have the potential for making bridge inspection operations significantly safer and more cost efficient.”  He added that the annual inspection costs of the Authority bridges at times exceeds $500,000.

This inspection tested the viability of using drones to inspect areas of the bridge that are hard to access. The drone obtained video and still imagery within a concrete anchorage, externally of a concrete pier, and of the bridge’s steel cable and superstructure.  The DRBA will assess the relative quality of the data recorded and the operational conditions, compared to traditional methods.

The use of drone technology may enable inspections to occur in less time, for less money, at better quality and with significantly reduced lane closure requirements.

The DRBA has been actively engaged in safe drone research and development as a member of The Cape May County NJ UAS Innovation Forum and The Delaware UAS Task Force.


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