Rep. Greg Stanton’s bipartisan bill to help state, local and tribal governments use drones to visually inspect critical infrastructure cleared the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Thursday. It now moves to the House floor for a vote.
H.R. 5315, the Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grant Act, was introduced by Stanton and Rep. Garret Graves, a Republican from Louisiana. It provides $100 million in grants for local governments to use drones to inspect infrastructure and help ease the nation’s serious inspection backlog. It also provides another $100 million for training the next generation workforce on the use of this technology.
“Using a drone to inspect infrastructure in hard-to-reach places—such as underneath bridges—can speed up the inspection process so we can get through the backlog more quickly, and it can help save money too,” Stanton said at the committee markup. “Not only that, but drone inspections are much safer for workers than having a human hang under a tall bridge. It’s an easy way to improve on-the-job safety.”
Many state departments of transportation, tribes and municipalities already use drones to augment human inspections when inspecting bridges, roads, dams and electric substations. The Arizona Department of Transportation uses drones to inspect bridges and perform surveying work along state highways. Drones are also useful in inspecting areas after natural disasters, like wildfires, to determine the extent of damage and whether areas are safe.
Stanton’s bill earned significant support before the vote, including from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last month, and has earned support from the National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, National Council of State Legislatures, National Association of State Aviation Officials, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Commercial Drone Alliance and Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.
Video of Stanton’s committee remarks is available HERE.