MDOT received this award due to its innovative use of LiDAR (light detection and ranging) drone technology. In May 2021 MDOT purchased LiDAR drones to improve efficiency and safety in the construction and maintenance of road projects. LiDAR is a method for determining ranges or distances by targeting an object with lasers and measuring the time for the reflected light to return to the receiver. The reflected light data is then converted into distance measurements, creating a 3-D model of the area.
Mississippi is now one of the first states in the southeast using this type of drone technology for state transportation work. The LiDAR drones allow MDOT to survey land conditions and collect roadway characteristics in a much safer and faster way than traditional surveying. The technology also increases safety for MDOT workers, greatly reducing the time spent working in or near moving traffic.
The information collected by the LiDAR drones is transferred to computers in the planning division, where engineers can work on road projects from their desks without having to spend long hours in the field using traditional surveying equipment, tape measures, and/or distance wheels. The information collected by the LiDAR drones is used by district surveyors and the planning division.