Over the last century, the world has seen several advances in technology and innovation. These major advances will drive the civil engineering profession forward as they have in the past. The development and use of unmanned or uncrewed aerial system technologies are shaping our built environment.

In this ASCE Interchange Live, Blaine Wruck, transportation engineer for Deschutes County, Oregon, and a certified remote pilot, discusses the integration of UAS into the built environment.

“Using UAS definitely helps improve the efficiency and safety of existing operations. For example, in my line of work, I’m commonly performing pavement condition surveys. When performing pavement condition surveys on a busy road, it’s very hard to do as manual labor. Physically being out there is hazardous. So using a UAS for this purpose can take an inspector out of that harmful environment and prevent a potential human-vehicle conflict,” Wruck said.

While unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, are in use today, there’s still much to do before they can be integrated into the built environment on a larger scale. Prematurely implementing this technology for drone deliveries or urban air mobility can create potential hazards for existing airspace users if a solid framework is not in place. However, Wruck notes that the FAA is continually working to address these concerns.

Wruck, who serves as vice chair for the T&DI UAS Committee, also shares the committee’s goal to provide a platform for people to learn and share their experiences with drones across the civil engineering profession, academia, and government sectors. Learn more about the committee.

To view all ASCE Interchange episodes, visit ASCE’s YouTube channel.