Union Pacific Showcases Drone Program, Plans

An online article about the program says Union Pacific now has 80 employees certified to fly drones and hopes to have nearly 250 throughout its 32,100-mile network by December 2018.

An online article about Union Pacific's use of drones this week says the railroad currently has 80 employees certified to fly drones and hopes to have nearly 250 throughout its 32,100-mile network by December 2018.

Railroads have been using drone technology to inspect bridges and other rail infrastructure since 2014 because this allows them to use cameras where men used to hang from 800-foot-long metal bridges or 600-foot-high radio towers, it says. But because large steel structures can break the signal between the drone, the operator, and the orbiting GPS satellite, they've had to develop technology, called Perspective Navigation Technology (PNT), that allows UP to fly drones in places without GPS coverage.

The article quotes Bob Meder, Union Pacific's senior manager of unmanned aerial systems, who oversees the training and licensing of Union Pacific drone operators and works closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to make sure the railroad's policies meet or exceed federal requirements for drone pilots.

"About two and a half years ago, a group of us got together to begin exploring the use of drone technology," Meder says in the article. "Things have evolved rapidly since then."

The railroad's first live drone feed was done during the 2016 Cedar River floods in northern Iowa, he explains, and the article says the resulting images changed the UP recovery plan in this instance: The team added more ballast and sent resources in via a less-flooded rail route.

The next step for the team is to use autonomous drones that can do inspections on their own.

Download Center

  • The Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    When it comes to OSHA recordkeeping, there are always questions regarding the requirements and in and outs. This guide is here to help!

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • Online Safety Training Buyer's Guide

    Thinking of getting an online safety training solution at work but not sure how to evaluate different solutions and find the one that's best for your company? Use this handy buyer's guide to learn the basics of selecting online safety training and how to use it at your workplace.

  • SDS Software Buyer's Guide

    Whether this is your first time shopping for online SDS software or you’re upgrading from a legacy solution, this guide is designed for you to use in your search for the safety management solution that works best for you and your company.

  • Risk Matrix Guide

    Risk matrices come in many different shapes and sizes. Understanding the components of a risk matrix will allow you and your organization to manage risk effectively.

  • Vector Solutions

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2021

    November December 2021

    Featuring:

    • GAS DETECTION
      How to Streamline Gas Detector Maintenance
    • OSHA TOP 10
      OSHA's Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for FY 2021
    • PROTECTIVE APPAREL
      How PPE Can Help You Deal with the Harsh Condition of Winter
    • HEARING PROTECTION
      Tackling Hearing Protection in the Workplace
    View This Issue