The Delaware River and Bay Authority is testing whether unmanned drones can be used to inspect the Delaware Memorial Bridge.
The DRBA conducted its first test of the drones Tuesday afternoon. A drone captured video and images under the bridge, including its steel cable and superstructure.
“Drones have the potential for making bridge inspection operations significantly safer and more cost efficient,” said Shekhar Scindia, DRBA project engineer.
Images captured by the drone will be transmitted to an operator on the ground who can view the images on a tablet.
DBRA Executive Director Scott Green concedes the drones could reduce the number of human inspectors "over time." However, he says drones will make the job safer because they can inspect the more dangerous areas of the bridge.
The technology could also save money as Scindia estimates that annual inspections costs often exceed $500,000. Drones could cut the cost of inspections by 30 percent.
Green said other tests of the drones are scheduled for later this year.