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Pittsburgh Drone Tech Company Provides Bridge Evaluation Resources

Pittsburgh-based company is using its innovative drone technology to scan bridges and partner with engineers and policymakers to help identify infrastructure and stability issues.

AERAS, an emerging drone technology company specializing in setting new standards in commercial sanitization, exterior building and window treatments, agriculture, infrastructure and public safety, has been using its unmanned aerial systems to detect deterioration in bridges throughout the Pittsburgh region.

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“Last month’s collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge highlights the need for increased monitoring of infrastructure not only here in Pittsburgh, but across the nation. We at AERAS are so thankful there hasn’t been any loss of life from this catastrophic incident,” CEO and Co-Founder Eric Lloyd said. “Engineers have a huge undertaking ahead of them here in the ‘City of Bridges’ — and, honestly, across the country — to make sure motorists are traveling on the safest infrastructure possible.”

Last month’s collapse of a 447-foot span in Frick Park that had received a poor rating from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation injured 10 people and brought deteriorating infrastructure into the national spotlight. Reports indicate that, of the 1,580 bridges in Allegheny County, 175 are considered in poor condition by PennDOT, having advanced deterioration of their primary structural elements.

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AERAS is partnering with engineers and policymakers to use its cutting-edge drone technology to create and aggregate the largest and most precise data on infrastructure possible. The company’s precision LiDAR and photogrammetry capabilities allow its drones to scan a bridge safely and thoroughly in less than 30 minutes, said Justin Melanson, co-founder and chief innovation officer at AERAS. The end result is the compilation of thousands of high-definition photos and data points that assist engineers and inspectors to have a fuller, more accurate picture of the state of bridges.

“Our drones’ precision imaging capabilities can show functional compromises or infrastructure stressors,” said Melanson, who also serves as the chair of PennDOT’s Economic Development UAS Task Force. “From a time efficiency and safety standpoint, drones are the perfect partner to add to the bridge evaluation process. AERAS has the expertise and ability to evaluate 300 bridges in the next 30 days”

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