New York Thruway awarded $1.5M federal grant for drone program

The New York State Thruway Authority will continue its drone program with the support of a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Biden administration announced Tuesday that more than $94 million has been awarded to 59 entities through the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation program, which created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

According to the Thruway Authority, it applied for the grant in September 2022. A year earlier, the agency launched a pilot drone program to conduct bridge inspections and help with other operational needs, such as construction and maintenance. The Thruway partnered with the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance, or NUAIR.

The grant will help fund the drone program — the Thruway Authority says it will work with the U.S. Department of Transportation to execute a grant agreement before the award is distributed.

“The use of drone technology in transportation provides exciting opportunities to improve infrastructure and increase effectiveness of inspections, data collection and more,” said Frank Hoare, interim executive director of the Thruway Authority. “We would like to thank the U.S. Department of Transportation for recognizing this innovative project with the SMART grant, and we look forward to the continued progress of the authority’s UAS drone program.”

With the federal aid, the Thruway Authority hopes to build on its pilot program. The agency says it will have the resources to “further develop the next generation of technology and to enhance the accuracy and efficiency of collection and analysis of critical data.”

The Thruway Authority is one of four New York recipients, joining the cities of Buffalo and Ithaca, along with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.


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