This past January, Autodesk, in cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), tested autonomous UAVs at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. The seven flights that comprised this proof-of-concept trial represented the first civilian UAV flights approved by the FAA for a Class B airspace.
The purpose of these flights was to aid in the mapping plans for two new parking garages, as well as a relocating a public transit station, both of which are part of a $6 billion program for expansion and general improvement of the airport property.
The UAVs, or drones, which were programmed and flown by 3D Robotics measured the project area much faster than traditional measuring methods and have aided project planners in pushing their process forward.
Autodesk and 3D Robotics is on hand at the 2017 ConExpo-Con/Agg (in the Gold Hall) to display and discuss the 3DR Sightscan System, which was used in the Atlanta airport trial.
Roads & Bridges spoke with Autodesk Strategic Project Executive Tristan Randall and 3D Robotics’s Jeremiah Johnson about the proof-of-concept trial and what makes the 3DR such a unique system.
“This system,” Randall said, “is fully autonomous, so it do not require an active operator. The drone is programmed and then it follows its programmed course, and merely needs monitoring. It runs off an iPad app, and gathers data over GPS. This was the first Class B restricted airspace trail allowed by the FAA, and it was accomplished in only half a day, as opposed to the significantly larger period of time traditional methods would have taken.”
“Since we focused on pre-construction areas,” said Johnson, “and since the area was pre-programmed, there was no disruption of airport operations and there were no required closures of lanes. We worked with Atkins, the civil engineering consultant, to make it happen.”
Now that the proof-of-concept has been successful, Autodesk and 3D Robotics plan to move forward with further applications of the system, and to ultimately devise a digital repository for high-megapixel imagery.