Ohio Plans to Use Drones to Study Highway Traffic

The state of Ohio has given the green light to a new 3-year study that will test the feasibility of using a fleet of drones to monitor Ohio’s road systems. Put into motion by Governor John Kasich’s Innovation Center for New Technology, the study is expected to cost up to $5.9 million over 3 years and will put a fleet of drones through an especially rigorous testing stage before publishing its results sometime in late 2021.

The goal of the program is to research “communication bridging” between traffic monitoring vehicles on the ground and the proposed fleet of drones in the sky above. Fred Judson, who is heading up the 3-year study noted that historically traffic monitoring from above, done mostly by helicopters, was an entirely separate entity to their on-ground counterparts. With the newly proposed fleet of drones, which fly at a much lower altitude, that is set to change in a big way.

John Kasich’s Innovation Center for New Technology is a front runner in adopting, at least in the research stage, many new technologies such as driverless cars and drone use in the state. “I think it’s in Ohio’s future, but we just want to be prepared for it, which is the reason why we have this research proposal,” say’s Judson, on the state’s big push towards using drone technology.

With a successful implementation of traffic monitoring drones in Ohio in the not so distant future, local businesses may find themselves in a much stronger position both legally and socially to make use of the technology themselves. It will pave the way for the possibilities of drone deliveries, which is something we are all waiting for to see happen in a city near us soon.

The study will test the drones on a specific 35-mile stretch of highway, from Dublin to East Liberty, Ohio. The study is an important step in the future of drone technology, but it’s unlikely to have any immediate positive benefit for drivers in Ohio for quite some time. As of now, the business of overhead drone use, particularly State or Federally controlled drone use, is a litigious nightmare at this stage in the technologies relative infancy.

A successful outcome for the study will be to find demonstrable evidence that drone technology is able to accurately and safely analyze traffic flow in much greater detail and with a much greater accuracy than can be done currently by conventional traffic cameras, which at the very most, go no higher than around 400 feet. The successful implementation of this technology in Ohio will also be of great use in the maintenance of the state’s roads, cutting down on laborious, time-consuming, manned inspection units.

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