Skydio has, in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Transport (NCDOT), received the first ever state-wide waiver for beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flights from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Together, Skydio and NCDOT inspect the state’s bridges for any safety concerns.
Now, thanks to the waiver, NCDOT can continue this operation without the use of visual observers or expensive technology designed to detect manned aircraft.
Skydio, the leading US drone company, specialises in autonomous flight.
With Skydio Autonomy, an AI-based autonomous flight engine, NCDOT will be able to use any Skydio drone safely in any environment, including areas without GPS, using 360° obstacle-avoidance technology.
Going forward, NCDOT’s inspectors – who face the daunting task of inspecting 13,500 bridges on a regular basis – can send drones to inspect critical structures below bridges in North Carolina instead of conducting dangerous rappels or using expensive snooper trucks.
A recent study by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials found that taxpayer cost per bridge inspection can be reduced by 75% by switching from traditional methods to drones, while saving up to $14,600 (£11,250) per inspection in social disruption cost.
“This is a game-changing achievement that we are thrilled to celebrate alongside NCDOT” said Adam Bry, CEO of Skydio. “Skydio’s technology takes the pressure off of pilots, who are now able to gain tremendous confidence by relying on our industry leading obstacle avoidance capability powered by revolutionary AI algorithms.
“Skydio Autonomy is critical as we partner in executing this new class of permitted operations to make infrastructure inspection faster, less socially intrusive, and safer.”