Railroads span all across the U.S. and just like everything else eventually break down in parts or require maintanence here or there. In the past a fleet of railroad inspectors would travel miles of railroad by foot checking for signs of wear or other preliminary conditions to breaking. With drones becoming an ever-larger tool in a variety of industries it was only a matter of time before they were adopted for use by railroad companies like BNSF. Companies like BNSF have been using drones and operators to provide these same inspections in a fraction of the time. With the range of todays drones' operators are able to survey larger sections of railroad all from a single spot rather than walking the lengths of rail road. A video provided by the drones also creates an opportunity to review that survey at a much later date allowing companies the opportunity to check surveys done many times over.
Well recently Montana Drone Company got a chance to be a part of such an inspection in northern Montana. A company hired us to do a survey spanning 12 miles of railroad deep in the twin meadows forest area. It was such a remote area that cell service stopped at the beginning of the area and did not return until we were back in Kalispell. Luckily pilot Schwartz was no stranger to these areas and had downloaded offline maps just in case. In the past the 12-mile stretch would have been a 3-4 day operation but with our drones we were able to complete the 12 mile stretch along with the 5 hour drive one way in a single day. Though the drones range extends to 3-4 miles Montana Drone Company kept themselves legal and always had the drone within VLS or visual line of sight. Even by limiting the drones' range to just VLS in total the survey only included 6 stops!
Keeping the project time down to a single day proved to us that drones have a bright and impactful future in the railroad industry!