Explore the Feasibility of using Unmanned Aircraft Systems in managing Rockfall Hazard Areas

Project ID: 7109
Principal Investigator: Kevin Tibbs
Research Topic: Condition Assessment
Funded Fiscal Years: 2017, 2018 and 2019
Keywords: None

Research Question

How can Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) be utilized in Rock Fall Hazard management to improve safety of the pubic and Reclamation employees, the safety of Reclamation infrastructure and reduce cost of managing and mitigating rock fall hazards?
What are the savings in managing rock fall hazard areas using UAS?
What are the procedures and processes to conduct a UAS mission over one of Reclamation's critical infrastructure?
What are the potential improvements to rock fall management programs by using UAS?

Need and Benefit

Currently, rock falls happen at Reclamation facilities. Rock fall events can; disrupt water and power deliveries, cause costly damage to Reclamation infrastructure and equipment, and could result in severe injury or death to the public and/or Reclamation employees.
Rock fall risk areas are currently investigated via rope teams and these investigations are expensive, take a lot of time and put Reclamation employees in a hazardous work environment. In addition, at some facilities the available window for conducting these investigations is too short for our limited Rope Teams to conduct complete investigations which leaves facilities and people at greater risk.
Regarding UAS activities, reclamation doesn't have a well developed program with defined policies for UAS flights. This is hampering adoption and use of the technology.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Exploring the Feasibility of using Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Managing Rockfall Hazard Areas (final, PDF, 9.4MB)
By Matthew Klein, Alison Warren
Report completed on September 30, 2022

This research product summarizes the research results and potential application to Reclamation's mission.

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Last Updated: 6/22/20