Lithuania is deploying drones to detect potholes and inspect road damage

drones road damage inspect

Lithuania is looking to drones to improve the quality of its road infrastructure. AB Kelių priežiūra, a state-owned company that ensures the maintenance of almost 13,050 miles (21,000 km) of national roads, is teaming up with drone manufacturer Thrust and tech company Agmis to automate road inspections with flying machines and artificial intelligence.

The joint project has been aptly titled GreenBee since it will help the inspection company to reduce its carbon footprint dramatically.

At present, road inspections in Lithuania are performed by specialist vehicles driving slowly and visually inspecting the road infrastructure. Depending on the type of road, these inspections are performed monthly, weekly, or sometimes daily. This means road inspection vehicles travel thousands of miles each year, emitting tons of carbon dioxide.

Project GreenBee will replace ground vehicles with drones carrying high-definition cameras and sensors. These drones will fly along the inspection routes gathering video and sensor data, which will then be analyzed by AI and computer vision technologies to identify potholes, cracks, and other road damage.

Also read: Ending the era of blind digs with underground mapping drones

Jolita Mackiene, head of Quality and Technology at AB Keliu prieziura, stresses that the introduction of drones will help to reduce the CO2 emission footprint of inspections by almost 90%. It will also help to divert maintenance resources from initial surveying to more critical tasks. Here’s Mackiene:

By rapidly covering large areas and pinpointing areas of potential defects, drones and AI analysis will act as a reconnaissance service. This will allow us to efficiently plan manned inspection routes and to dispatch teams to the areas requiring prompt action.

The companies have applied to receive funding from European Union’s Horizon2020 initiative under the Robotics for Infrastructure and Maintenance (RIMA) acceleration program.

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