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NDDOT training on drones, preparing for the spring flood season

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

Members of the Department of Transportation were flying drones at the state Capitol in Bismarck Wednesday.

It was a training exercise, as DOT prepares for the spring flood season.

"We started using them last year, and experimented with them," said DOT’s UAS Integration Program Administrator Russ Buchholz.

The agency has 12 drones. And Buchholz expects they will be used in central and eastern North Dakota this spring.

"First of all, ice jamming is a big concern, and raises havoc on our bridges," Buchholz said. "We can monitor the ice jam to see what's going on."

Buchholz said that information would also be relayed to the Department of Emergency Services.

"With that, they can make decisions on what we need to do," Buchholz said. "If we need to open up a bridge, we can use the drone to inspect the bridge, and get those bridges open as soon as possible for the traveling public."

One of the newest drones – dubbed the “Enterprise” – has a strobe light and speakers.

"If we need to do search and rescue, or if we need to get a message out, we can use that as well," Buchholz said.

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