Norwegian government saves time and money on road surveys with VTOL drone data [ROI study]

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration (Norwegian: Statens vegvesen) is a government agency that oversees the national and regional road network spanning the longest country in Europe. It has earned Norway the title of having the safest roads in the continent from 2015-2017, and the team aims to reach a zero-fatality goal. This goal is to be achieved by 2024, and a big part of enabling it is road creation and inspection.

Engineers at the administration have begun to use drones for road surveying, which is transforming the way they work in the field and the quality of data that they can gather on-demand. They’re also reporting budget benefits.

INDUSTRYRoad constructionCOUNTRIESNorwayUSE CASENational roads administration discovered the power of drone data to save time, cut costs and tightly monitor construction. They switched to VTOL a year ago for better ROI.CHALLENGESSmall spaces for take-off and landing, large survey areas, high accuracy requirements and steady wind

The administration started using WingtraOne last year for regular, broad-coverage VTOL drone road construction surveys, and they’ve already cut project time and spending significantly.

Closeup of engineer with WingtraOne and base station.Closeup of engineer with WingtraOne and base station.

Cutting field time: from 5 days to about an hour

Gry C.S. Kjellsmoen is a chief engineer at the administration and flies the drone once or twice a week. She says smaller projects take just 15 minutes, while larger ones can take up to two hours. When comparing this to traditional survey methods and to a multirotor, it’s obvious why the administration just purchased their second WingtraOne mapping drone for their Oslo branch to conduct road and highway construction surveys.

When asked about the time cut from traditional methods, Kjellsmoen explained that a road survey covering about a 5 km (3.1 mi) requires three WingtraOne flight plans, lasting between 18 and 22 minutes each. This adds up to approximately one hour of flight time.

Traditionally it would take me about five days in the field with a scanner to get the data we get in an hour with WingtraOne, and then I’d have to edit it inside afterward.

Gry C.S. Kjellsmoen

Chief Engineer, Norwegian Roads Administration

The best drone for road construction

Before WingtraOne, the administration used a multirotor for a short time to collect drone data and prove the value of it. But the coverage was no match for the average road construction survey.

As a public service, they invited students to conduct drone surveys on a 1.5 km (0.9 mi) stretch of road with a DJI Phantom 4 that they used before WingtraOne. The exercise offered a direct comparison of the two drones.

Point cloud of a road under constructionPoint cloud of a road under construction
Among other types of outputs, drone data enables detailed point clouds that allow for volume assessment and tracking of road construction.

For the flight of 1.5 km with WingtraOne, we had one plan that took 14 minutes. And with the Phantom 4 we had five flight plans of 10 to 15 minutes each.

Gry C.S. Kjellsmoen

Chief Engineer, Norwegian Roads Administration

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