Washington's Walla Walla County introduces UAS



According to the Union-Bulletin, UAS will now be a part of the operations of Walla Walla County, Washington.

In its debut, the county's new UAS, which is constructed mostly of “high-tech Styrofoam” and has a wingspan of approximately five feet, was used to perform an aerial survey of Whitman Drive for a planned bike-pedestrian pathway.

Easily launched by hand, the UAS will reportedly be used to for a variety of tasks including general aerial photography and project inspections. The UAS will ultimately save a lot of time in collecting mapping and survey data, as in an hour of flight time, it can collect the same amount of data that it would take a traditional, ground-bound surveying team about three to five weeks to collect.

Flying on a programmed route, the UAS is responsible for collecting data and photos, which it sends back to a computer through a radio link. The computer also displays where the UAS is at any point during its flight.  

When the UAS has completed its task, or if it is low on power, it returns to its starting point and softly belly-lands near the same spot where it was originally launched. On a fully-charged battery, the UAS can fly for nearly an hour under ideal conditions.  

Right now, the UAS is in the Public Works Department inventory. Only one Public Works Department employee is currently licensed to operate the UAS at this point in time.

The UAS was purchased in April from RDO Integrated Controls of Pasco, Washington. With an offer of $29,058.25, the company was the “lowest two bidders.”

RDO’s offer included the UAS, along with flight planning and image mapping software needed to process data to create a digital surface model and imagery. On-site training from RDO and one year of technical support were also included in the contract.

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