Around the world, vital infrastructure is falling apart. Industrial countries like Italy, Brazil and the United States have suffered headline-grabbing bridge collapses and ruptured dams. These often-deadly events have inspired policy makers around the world push to rebuild. But they must balance infrastructure against another crisis: climate change. Infrastructure carries larger stakes for climate debates than one might first expect. According to the World Bank, approximately 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from infrastructure construction and the processes that sustain it.
As infrastructure upkeep and the climate crisis alike become more urgent, policy-makers find themselves trapped between the two. Many attempts to address one would worsen the other. Some “green” solutions cost more than the problem itself which has led to the search of a new solution: drones.
Drones enable greener, cost-effective inspections of ageing and decaying infrastructure. By using drones, we can cut the carbon footprint of traditional inspection methods, and complete more inspections in less time. Together, these benefits bring us closer to the sustainable infrastructure future we need.
By completing more inspections in less time (for less money), drones enable more inspections to happen, increasing the likelihood of spotting problems before they emerge. The earlier an issue is identified, the easier it is to remedy and before far larger (and far more carbon-intensive) fixes like reconstructing whole sections of structures are required.
By making inspections quicker and cheaper, drones enable more proactive examinations that reduce the need for carbon-intensive inspections. Using drones, bridge inspectors can complete in minutes tasks that would otherwise take hours.
Case studies from across the globe are proving drones’ potential to sustainably enhance infrastructure resilience. Of course, cleaner inspection won’t solve the green infrastructure problem alone. But drones are an essential part of the solution. Drones are a bridge to the future – tools that keep our infrastructure humming without damaging the environment on which we all depend.