Drones

Drones are helping us improve safety and be more efficient.

We currently use a drone to track and verify rock quantities at our rock pits, and assess mudslides for unseen hazards. We also plan to use our drone for levee inspections starting later in 2018.

Rock pits


We store rocks at the 10 county-owned rock pits to use for road shoulders and river levees, and in roadside drainage facilities. We have used our drone to track and verify rock quantities on a quarterly basis since late 2017.
 
After we scan a rock pit with the drone, we use a program that allows us to turn the footage into a 3D image of the rock surface that we can convert into rock tonnage. The drone is in the air for about 10 minutes during the scan. 

Mudslides


Mudslides create hazards for motorists, as well as staff who assess the mudslide and clean up the debris. 

As part of a pilot program that began in late 2017, we can use the drone to assess the extent of a mudslide and identify unseen hazards, such as root balls, leaning trees and dams that are built up with water. We fly the drone within the county right-of-way to inspect the mudslide. Previously, our staff had to identify these hazards.

If a long-term road closure is needed while repairs are underway, we can use the drone to track changes to the mudslide.

Levees


We regularly inspect river levees to identify erosion, changes to the river’s path, and damage following storms or floods. Starting later in 2018, we will use our drone to inspect difficult to reach and inaccessible areas, as well as view a larger area of the levee system in a shorter amount of time. 

Avoiding private property


We use our drone for very specific activities in a limited area. We make every effort not to fly over private property or capture footage of private property. Any footage we inadvertently take of private property will not be used for other county purposes.

About our drone


We use a DJI Phantom 4 drone, which came with the subscription to the program we use to quantify the rock pit data. The drone is operated by the two employees that hold FAA Part 107-remote pilot licenses. 

Contact Us
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Phone: (253) 798-6000
Monday–Friday
7:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Address:
4812 196th St. E,
Spanaway, WA 98387