Updated: Nov 5, 2021
News and Commentary. The U.S. infrastructure bill could have a profound positive impact on the drone industry.
U.S. infrastructure was rated a “C-minus” by the American Society for Civil Engineers, who says that failing infrastructure costs every American thousands of dollars a year: while U.S. infrastructure overall ranks second in the world, the country falls to the 13th place in transportation infrastructure. The $715 billion bill, recently passed by the House of Representatives, outlines a path forward for funding major restoration of the U.S. infrastructure; and prioritizes clean water and new transportation infrastructure.
By any measure, updating and renewing the vast systems of roads, bridges, railways, water treatment facilities, and more will be an enormous effort – one that take generations to complete. How will America begin the work – and maintain it afterwards?
In a recent article published on ZDNet, author Greg Nichols answers: “Enter drones. To truly modernize and future proof America’s infrastructure, it’s a safe bet that drones should play a key role enabling quick inspections and spotting developing issues prior to them debilitating an electric grid or roadway… The once nascent industry is on the precipice of breaking into the mainstream and the Biden infrastructure plan could be the tipping point.”
It’s a point that the drone industry agrees with. New projects defined by the bill could be the push that enterprise companies need to really scale drone projects. Inspections, delivery of parts, project management, and remote work are all perfect for drone applications. “Our US infrastructure requires this lift to engage with innovative technologies. The amount of infrastructure combined with various geographical environments calls for smart management assurance. Drones modernize inspection initiatives, improve asset management processes, and create a lasting investment for American infrastructure sectors. The passing of this bill is good news for the drone industry,” says Amy Wiegand of service provider DroneUp.
Beyond the initial boost to the drone economy, however, the U.S. infrastructure bill could have an outsized influence on advanced drone applications like drone delivery and urban air mobility (UAM). The bill specifies the need to deal with road congestion and pollution – advanced air mobility solutions could be the answer. As infrastructure projects get underway, the idea of using smaller, and possibly autonomous, clean-energy cargo or passenger aircraft to handle transportation needs – rather than building yet another lane on an already vast highway could seem more reasonable to government regulators.