NSW utilises drones in flood recovery efforts

Drone technology is helping the NSW Government fast-track assessment of damage and efforts to rebuild roads and bridges following last month’s devastating floods.

Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for flood recovery, John Barilaro, said data gathered by drones was providing a clear picture of the massive amount of soil and debris that needed to be removed and helped in developing plans to do it safely.

“Our drones have allowed us to get a flying start on understanding exactly what damage has been done so our engineers can work out what is required to fix it – from how many tonnes of rock and debris need to be removed to the data we need to build 3D modelling of the slopes affected. Best of all, they can take images from multiple angles without putting workers’ safety at risk,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The sky really is the limit for how useful this technology can be in helping us find temporary solutions to re-open disaster affected roads and designing the permanent solutions needed to rebuild.”

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Paul Toole, said drones have been used extensively on the Oxley Highway after dozens of landslips cut access between Forbes River Road and Gingers Creek Roadhouse.

“Drones are playing a critical role in our efforts to restore access on key roads like the Oxley as quickly as possible, allowing us to get a close-up view of the damage well before it was safe to send crews into these areas,” Mr Toole said.

“Access is still dangerous and difficult in many areas where we’ve seen these landslides but drones have meant we can determine the full extent of damage that can’t be seen from the road.”

Since Transport for NSW started using drone technology in 2019, it has expanded its use to a number of the state’s major disaster events, including the 2020 Blue Mountains bushfires, to fast-track recovery times.

Drones are also being used for other transport related work including routine maintenance and planning for infrastructure projects.

“Our flying squad is being put to good use right across Transport – from determining the right dimensions of a new bridge to assessing the condition of a fauna fence or inspecting difficult to reach infrastructure such as the top of bridges or overhead powerlines,” Mr Toole said.

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