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Policy Statement 549 - Unmanned Aircraft Systems

 

Approved by the Transportation Policy Committee on May 16, 2019
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on August 9, 2019
Adopted by the Board of Direction on October 14, 2019

Policy 

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports the appropriate, safe and responsible use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in compliance with federal, state and local regulations, laws and ordinances in the planning, design, construction, operation, and inspection of civil engineering infrastructure projects and facilities.

Furthermore, ASCE encourages the inclusion of features in UAS technology that support stronger planning, design, operation, and maintenance of our infrastructure, including transportation and human safety. UAS should not be used where they are incompatible with the environment. 

Issue

The civil engineering industry continues to leverage new technology to enhance public health, welfare, and safety, and to improve current means and methods. As technology advances and infrastructure projects become more complex, UAS usage can make workplaces safer and provide more cost- effective delivery of civil engineering services. The Federal, state and local governments are taking steps to regulate the UAS industry.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates the airspace of the United States and has the primary authority to regulate UAS and their use in the national airspace. The FAA has issued regulations for the commercial use of UAS and will continue to monitor and issue additional regulations in the future to ensure that recreational, commercial and government use of UAS are safe.

While UAS have many promising civil engineering applications, UAS can create social and legal issues. These include concerns about public safety and security, privacy, property rights, noise pollution, visual pollution, wildlife harassment, nuisance and general annoyance.

Rationale 

The applications of UAS in civil engineering are expanding and include surveying, mapping, monitoring, data collection facilities Inspections, and delivery services. The list of UAS services includes, but is not limited to:

Safety

  • Inspection and monitoring of structures and facilities
  • Construction engineering and inspection
  • Engineering and geospatial technologies 
  • Site monitoring support
  • Inspection of electrical transmission systems and other high voltage electric system infrastructure and thermal/infrared mapping
  • Increased safety in hazardous inspection scenarios

Surveying

  • Broad perspective of features 
  • 3D elevation and aerial image and mapping information
  • Initial damage assessment during natural disasters
  • Bridge and railroad inspection tool

Traffic-Transportation Studies 

  • Peak hour traffic inspections- less disruptions to traveling public 
  • LIDAR systems for data collection 
  • Thermal/infrared mapping 
  • Traffic engineering queuing verification at intersections and along roadways 
  • Lane weaving pattern

Use of UAS for civil engineering and other applications must be conducted under a regime that is safe and also compatible with federal, state, and local community standards and regulations.

ASCE Policy Statement 549
First Approved in 2016

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