UK: Transport authority Nexus has begun using a Matrice 300 RTK drone to monitor the 77 km Tyne & Wear Metro network.

The unmanned aerial vehicle is currently equipped with a L1 sensor for lidar surveys, P1 sensor for photogrammetry and imaging and H20T for thermal and visual imagery.  These provide a live video feed to the operator, with software ‘with more accuracy than the human eye’ used to identify any issues.

‘Drone technology is really transforming how we look we look after maintenance’, said Steven Shiel, Head of Maintenance Delivery at Nexus. ’It allows us to keep tabs on all parts of our infrastructure, from tracks and overhead lines to bridges and embankments, in more a much more effective way.

‘By sending the drone up we can inspect and survey vast stretches of the infrastructure very quickly. The advanced camera which is mounted on the drone give us more detail than we have ever had before. It allows us to pinpoint issues and plan work more effectively.

‘It also allows us to be less reliant on our works teams having to walk large sections of the track to in order to carry out maintenance inspections. This delivers a huge boost both in terms of safety and reliability of the metro network.’