Grant will provide drone training to government entities in state

November 6, 2019

A grant awarded by the Federal Highway Administration’s State Transportation Innovation Council will provide training on how to use drones to improve processes throughout the state.

Austin Woody with the University of Wyoming Technology Transfer Center (WYT2) said the center was awarded $125,000 to purchase drones and provide training to help government entities understand the benefits of using drones for a number of tasks.

Nov. 4-10 is National Drone Safety Awareness Week, and the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Division is working to educate the public both of the need for following federal rules for drone use, but also the wide-reaching uses of drones.

Woody said the WYT2 group also be purchasing photogrammetry software and GPS ground control points for 3D modeling to use for training as well. 

“Right now, people are using consultants,” Woody said. “What we are doing is trying to demonstrate that it is much more affordable than it was just a few short years ago.”

The WYT2 will travel around the state to offer workshops to assist agencies in accessing drone technology, Woody added.

After initial research, WYT2 will expand its training. Right now, he said the group is working to better understand how agencies might be using drones. 

“We are in the infancy of it,” Woody said. Right now, they are researching and doing training to prepare for working with agencies, but he said they plan to start working with agencies in the early spring. 

“The applications are pretty wide reaching,” Wood said. In terms of transportation, he said that drones can quickly be used to assess how much fill is needed for holes in the roadway. “They can get really detailed images of damage to the roadway, while also saving lots of risk and lots of money as well as time. You can get imagery rapidly.“

But there are many other applications, and the use of drones will only expand.

“It’s here to stay and it’s going to be changing the way a lot of things are done,” Woody said. “We’re hoping to get the ball rolling and get people in the state up to speed.”

The Wyoming Highway Patrol also was awarded money as part of the grant. The WHP will be using money to secure drones for crash reconstruction and search and rescue operations.

Nationally, law enforcement agencies are using drones for observing dangerous suspects employing infrared and thermal sensors, as well as even exploring uses for bomb disposal and dealing with hazardous materials.

Drones have been used to deliver defibrillators to patients on golf courses and floatation devices to people at risk of drowning. Not only does this put fewer people at risk, it can save thousands of dollars.

In other industries, insurance companies are using drones to access dangerous areas more quickly to help people speed up the process to recovery without putting additional people at risk. Agriculturally, 1,000 acres of farmland can be inspected in one day by a drone, according to DJI’s public safety report.

But WYDOT is working to get information out on safe operation. Aircraft must be registered and many regulations must be followed, unless a waiver is obtained from the FAA, like ensuring drone pilots are properly licensed, flying only below 400 feet, operating within line of sight during daylight or civil twilight hours and following airspace restrictions.

More information on regulations can be found at

For more information on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in Wyoming, contact Sheri Taylor, UAS program manager at (307) 777-4360. For other questions about this release, contact J.L. O’Brien, senior Public Affairs specialist, at (307)777-4439.