Albuquerque begins using drone to survey streets, dams

News

It sees things the human eye can’t, and soon it will be used to make sure New Mexico roads, bridges and dams are safe. 

A new drone is the latest tool to hit the Albuquerque’s Municipal Development Department. 

“The idea is just to make it more convenient, safer for our employees as well as to get more information and more data in a less amount of time,” said Johnny Chandler, Municipal Development Department spokesperson.  

Specialized software allows the drone to get a vastly different view of bridges and streets than the view
surveyors had in the past. A look from the drone shows the depth and topography of the area. 

“It takes a 3D survey of the road, and also it’s able to let you know what’s kind of happening underground as well,” said Chandler.  

It’s a far cry from what an average drone would show. The two employees certified by the FAA to fly the new drone took it out for a training mission to show KRQE News 13 how it works. 

X’s have been spray painted onto a road at Balloon Fiesta Park to help with the process as they survey one of the roads. 

Monday, they took a closer look at a road that suspect might be sinking. With the drone, an area as big as Balloon Fiesta Park can be surveyed in a week without any, or minimal, road closures. Whereas the conventional way would take a month and cause a major disruption in traffic.

“The idea behind this drone is to streamline the process, to be a little less intrusive to the community and we’re going to do as many as we can,” said Chandler.  

The drone pilots just finished training, and are now ready to take the drone citywide. 

The city plans to start surveying bridges and dams once monsoon season starts. That data collected will reveal what, if any, damage was done by the rains.

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