The House of Representatives today passed Rep. Greg Stanton’s bipartisan bill to help state, local and tribal governments use drones to visually inspect critical infrastructure. H.R. 5315, the Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grant Act, would provide $100 million in grants for local governments to purchase drones or contract for services to inspect critical infrastructure and help ease the nation’s serious inspection backlog, and another $100 million for training the next generation workforce on the use of this technology.
“There’s a nationwide backlog for critical infrastructure inspections—and it’s because traditional methods are often time consuming and expensive, and can even be dangerous. Using a drone to inspect infrastructure in hard-to-reach places—such as underneath bridges—can speed up the inspection process, is safer for workers, and can help save states and local transit agencies money,” Stanton said. “I’m grateful to my colleagues for their support and look forward to passing this common-sense, bipartisan bill through the Senate.”
“I applaud the House for passing the Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grant Act today, which will support the use of small drones to help state and local governments better inspect and repair critical infrastructure,” Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said. “As we make historic investments in our transportation systems and infrastructure, the Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grant Act will help states, localities, and other stakeholders better inspect and maintain critical assets such as bridges and roads while training the workforce necessary to do so safely and effectively. I applaud Rep. Greg Stanton, whose work on this piece of legislation was instrumental. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass this bill without delay.”
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 spoke on the House floor ahead of the bill’s passage. Video is available HERE.
Stanton’s bill has earned significant support, including from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 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.
A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Jacky Rosen of Nevada, John Boozman of Arkansas and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.