drone sunset
May 3, 2019

Armistead Comments on Use of Drones to Solve Infrastructure Crises

As lawmakers look to tackle the nation’s infrastructure issues, a proposal has been made to leverage advanced technology, including drones, to spend less money and move more quickly on repairs and improvements.

In an April 30 article from Inside Unmanned Systems, McGuireWoods Consulting senior vice president, Amanda Armistead, commented on the current state of federal policy around solving infrastructure crises, and how drones may be able to help.

A member of McGuireWoods Consulting’s Emerging Technologies team, Armistead noted that the House and Senate have held hearings on the issue, with House leaders initially eyeing floor time in June to work on an infrastructure bill. The President and Democratic leaders held a meeting this week, during which they agreed to negotiate towards a $2 billion package without discussing specifics.

With support from both the White House and congressional lawmakers, there is a significant bipartisan effort to develop legislation on improving and repairing U.S. infrastructure.

“Using drones can save a lot of money. It can save a lot of time and it can obviously protect workers as well,” Armistead said. “So, there’s a lot of interest in using drones to create efficiencies that will let projects be done more quickly and more inexpensively.”

Currently, the US. Federal Highway Administration has a program to help organizations working on highway transportation adopt new technology, and both the White House and Congress have demonstrated support for using drones more fully.

Despite the bipartisan support, there is no clear agreement of how an infrastructure bill would be funded.

“Of course, the devil’s in the details—and the details here are how to pay for it,” Armistead said.

In some areas, states are stepping up and passing legislative initiatives around infrastructure in attempt to make up for missing federal dollars, but Congress will need to create policies that solve infrastructure issues as a whole in order for these efforts to be successful.