Boozman, Rosen, Blumenthal Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Grow Use of Drone Technology for Infrastructure Inspections
Legislation Would Also Invest in Workforce Development for New Drone Technology Jobs
Jun 07 2023
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grant (DIIG) Act to help utilize drone technology to inspect critical infrastructure. This bipartisan bill would authorize $100 million in competitive grants to help local governments fund more opportunities to use American-made drones in critical infrastructure inspections, maintenance, or construction projects.
“There’s no reason not to utilize drone technology that’s produced right here in America to more efficiently and effectively assess the safety of our bridges, railways and other infrastructure,” said Boozman. “In Arkansas, we’ve seen the numerous benefits they offer – from precision agriculture to law enforcement missions and enhancing manual inspections – but we’re also at the forefront of guarding against reliance on foreign-based manufacturers to supply unmanned aircraft systems. Our bipartisan bill helps expand this vision nationwide and invests in educational opportunities necessary to create more skilled operators and technicians.”
“As we implement the historic investments to update our nation’s infrastructure, we must use the latest technology to identify structures that need to be fixed,” said Rosen. “This bipartisan legislation I’m introducing will help local governments invest in drones to better inspect their infrastructure for safety and reliability, while preparing our workforce for jobs of the future.”
“These grants are an important investment to ensure state and local inspection officials have the resources they need to keep our infrastructure and communities safe,” said Blumenthal. “Drone technology can be a valuable tool to help us modernize our roads and bridges. The next generation of highly-trained workers are key to a sustainable, world-class transportation network.”
Drones have been used to help inspect infrastructure projects and prevent catastrophes. In 2021, drone footage helped reveal a severe crack in the I-40 bridge connecting Arkansas and Tennessee, which carries an estimated 40,000 vehicles across the Mississippi River every day.
“Drones are being relied on as indispensable tools for critical operations, including infrastructure inspections – and that role will only continue to grow as the technology advances further. The future of aviation leadership is in autonomy, and the United States must invest in supporting the drone industry and growing workforce. This bill accomplishes both goals by providing states with grants to funding to acquire and utilize secure drones for infrastructure inspection and to train the workforce to conduct these critical missions," said Michael Robbins, Chief Advocacy Officer at the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). “The U.S. cannot afford to fall behind in the drone industry’s ability to attract capital, investment, and workforce. Congress should pass this commonsense legislation to help level the playing field for the U.S. drone industry and to encourage the infrastructure and workforce benefits the DIIG Act would bring to communities nationwide.”This legislation would also enable research universities to access grants for programs geared toward training the next generation of workers who operate drones.