Use Of Drone Boats Puts MDOT On “Infrastructure Game Changers” List
The Michigan Department of transportation just got big recognition for something they’re doing in the state that the American Society of civil engineers thinks is so great they put on their list of ''2021 Infrastructure Gamechangers.''
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has been using a remote-piloted boat called sonar Emily which stands for, EMergency Integrated LanYard, to check around bridge foundations to make sure there’s not something called “scour“ happening around the bridge structure. Scour is when the water currents erode the streambed around the bridge foundation, MDOT says it’s a leading cause of bridge failure.
MDOT describes EMILY as,
A powerful, durable, maneuverable water-jet-powered device, EMILY is about 4 1/2 feet long, 2 feet wide and a foot tall. It can be equipped with sonar to allow inspectors to take depth measurements and a topside camera to view the underside of bridges.
MDOT also says that EMILY really showed its strength and importance during the dam failures and flooding event that took place last year, May 2020, that flooded Midland, Gladwyn, Saginaw, Arenac, and Iosco counties
With over 20 bridges affected, MDOT quickly used ENILY to make sure the bridges along the freeways in the affected areas were stable during and after the flooding as well as making sure other bridges in the community were safe after the initial event, so they could eventually bring back the more than 10,000 residents who were evacuated when the dam failures and flooding began.
The tool was also able to get damaged bridges assessed and rebuilt quicker than they have historically in flooding events.
"EMILY is a great asset for MDOT,'' MDOT Bay Region Bridge Engineer Paul Schiefer said. ''During the flood response, it allowed us to monitor bridge conditions without putting a diver in a potentially dangerous situation.''
MDOT says they have four EMILY units positioned around the state, strategically, so they are ready to deploy the units in extreme High-water events or just routine bridge inspections across the state.