Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), or drones, were promoted by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as one of the Every Day Counts Round 5 (EDC-5) innovations. In 2017, the NJDOT Bureau of Aeronautics applied for and received a NJ State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) Incentive Program Funding grant to purchase equipment and provide training to evaluate the use of UAS for applications within NJDOT. Prior research had determined that this innovative technology could improve safety and efficiency and reduce costs.
The final report, Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS): Purchase and Training, describes the use of the STIC funding to assist in establishing the UAS program within the Bureau of Aeronautics. The report describes the training curriculum and two use cases — high mast inspection and traffic incident management — and offers lessons learned and best practices.
The STIC grant, in combination with two other grants, enabled the Bureau to advance UAS within NJDOT. The innovation is now considered institutionalized within the agency. A video, Drone Technology at NJDOT, highlights the efforts to launch and integrate UAS in NJDOT operations.
FHWA offers up to $100,000 to each STIC each year. You can find out more about the STIC Incentive Program here.