Drone Infrastructure and Inspection (DIIG) Act

DIIG, drones infrastructure inspection grant act, drones for bridge inspectionA bi-partisan group of 3 U.S. Senators have introduced the Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grant (DIIG) Act, which would establish a grant program for local governments to “increase use of drones, invest in next generation workforce,” says a press release

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U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), John Boozman (R-AR), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have introduced the Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grant Act, “which would authorize $100 million in competitive grants to use American-made drones to perform critical infrastructure inspection, maintenance, or construction projects,” says the press release. “This bipartisan bill would also authorize $100 million in grants for workforce training and education to prepare the next generation of workers in this field.”

A version of bill was introduced in the House of Representatives last year, calling for grants of $50,000,000 to be used by state, local and tribal governments for purchase of eligible drone systems, purchase of drone inspection services, or to support government drone programs.   The drone programs are specifically to support and improve infrastructure, a leading application for commercial drones and a significant benefit for communities.  “Eligible drones” in the House bill is defined:

The term “eligible small unmanned aircraft system” means a small unmanned aircraft system that is manufactured or assembled by a company domiciled in the United States that is not subject to influence or control by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

H.R. 5315 also calls for an equal amount of funding to be granted for drone education and workforce development.

The Secretary of Transportation shall establish a drone education and training grant program to make grants to educational institutions for workforce training for small unmanned aircraft system technology.

“As we make historic investments in fixing and updating our nation’s infrastructure, we can rely on the latest technology to identify physical vulnerabilities that need to be fixed,” said Senator Rosen. “This bipartisan legislation will help local governments invest in drones and skilled workers to ensure America’s existing infrastructure remains safe.”

“Using advanced technology for infrastructure safety inspections will improve and strengthen our bridges and railways,” said Senator Boozman. “In Arkansas, we’ve invested in modernizing our capabilities, including utilizing drones and other emerging technologies. The DIIG Act continues to build on this momentum while also helping develop the workforce to operate these cutting edge tools.”

“This bill promotes the use of domestic drone technology to inspect and maintain our nation’s vital infrastructure,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Through important grant programs, our workforce will be given the tools and skilled training necessary to keep our bridges, dams, and highways across the country safe. I’m proud to join this legislation as we build on the groundbreaking investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

Commercial drones offer a significant benefit in cost and quality for infrastructure inspection: with the DIIG Act, Congress is able to find a way of promoting new technology, new jobs, and new projects in the US: something both parties can agree upon.

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