MDOT Using Remote Control Drone Boats To Inspect Some Bridges

The Michigan Department of Transportation has gotten recognition from the American Society of Civil Engineers for its use of a new method of inspecting bridges. MDOT spokesperson Dan Weingarten tells WSJM News the agency has been using remote controlled drone boats to inspect the underside of bridges and their underwater components.

“These can be deployed in swift water at times when it might not be safe to put a diver in the water to do some of the inspections that we need to do,” Weingarten said. “We’re using them both in emergency situations and for routine inspections of bridges around the state.”

Weingarten says Sonar EMILY, or EMergency Integrated LanYard, is a remote-piloted boat that MDOT has been using to combat bridge scour, or the degradation of the streambed around bridge abutments due to water currents. He says using the drone boats is safer than using a diver when there are strong currents. The agency used them following floods in Midland, Gladwin, Saginaw, Arenac, and Iosco counties. The American Society of Civil Engineers has named the MDOT program to its list of ”2021 Infrastructure Gamechangers.”