Drone hovering in the sky at night above the city

Drones: Eyes in the Sky

By Bruce Edwards

Traffic congestion seems to be an unsolvable problem for many years. It can cause not only huge economic loss but also air pollution. Recently, a project team led by DriveOhio has been testing on using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), known as drones, to monitor and study traffic patterns.

So, can drones help to tackle traffic congestion?

While people have been collecting rich data through resources such as road sensors and mobility firms, the use of drones may still play an important role in complementing traffic control systems by gathering real-time data from the sky and changing traffic patterns. As designed by DriveOhio, the drones are equipped with passive radar systems, which makes the tracking of drones possible. They are also joint with the state’s traffic camera systems and road sensors in order to monitor the traffic of “autonomous and connected vehicles along the 33 Smart Mobility Corridor” (DriveOhio, n.d., para. 3). The drones then gather data about the traffic congestions and send them back to the state’s Traffic Management Center.

Furthermore, researchers need to analyze the data by applying different traffic models, optimize the waiting time of traffic signals, and plan for alternative routes. By giving immediate responses, people could proactively reduce the delay time of traffic and consequently mitigate the traffic congestions. In my opinion, in addition to monitoring traffic congestions, the drones can also be connected to systems of police departments. Thus, they could help to inspect crimes and crashes on the roads and eventually build a more efficient and safer traffic environment.

Originally published by Medium.


Budd, L. (2019, April 10). Drones to help Springboro help study traffic congestion. Retrieved from https://www.daytondailynews.com/news/local/drones-help-springboro-help-study-traffic-congestion/GNNIm89TZDPdqgRmR0BfsI/

DriveOhio. (n.d.). With New Strategic Plan, DriveOhio and the Ohio UAS Center Bring Smart Mobility to Every Altitude, Position Ohio as a Leader in Drone Technologies. Retrieved from https://drive.ohio.gov/news/Ohio-UAS-Center-Strategic-Plan/index.html

DriveOhio. (n.d.). Ohio Research Project Will Monitor Traffic With Unmanned Aircraft. Retrieved from https://drive.ohio.gov/news/Ohio-Research-Project-Will-Monitor-Traffic-With-Unmanned-Aircraft/

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