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June 26, 2014 08:45 AM

Surveying The Land From The Air

The South Dakota Department of Transportation is partnering up with the school Michigan Tech for a demonstration that may be a little futuristic.

The demonstration will show how a hexacopter, widely known as a drone, could eventually be used in South Dakota, but local one man is already getting into the action.

"I've always been interested in area photography and obviously getting a helicopter is really expensive and this is a neat way to take some pictures from a perspective you normally can't," Matthew Paulson said.

Paulson has only had his drone for a few weeks now, but it's getting a lot of attention. He posted a drone video of Falls Park on YouTube as water was spilling over last week. It received a lot of buzz on social media.

"Just really taking a camera to places humans can't get to easily. These things can have a decent range so we can get eyes on stuff you normally couldn't before," Paulson said.

Paulson uses his drone for fun, but governement departments in South Dakota could soon be utilizing flying devices as well.

"From the pictures that are taken from the road surface you can identify things like the roadway width, the slope, the presents of potholes," South Dakota Department Of Transportation Research Program Manager David Huft said.

A Hexacopter would fly over the nearly 80,000 miles of local roads in South Dakota. It would send back pictures and video of the roadways. The South Dakota's DOT Research Team will investigate the conditions and make sure the road becomes safer for you to drive on.

"In the future, in the near future perhaps, we'll be able to use this type of vehicle more quickly, and economically, fly over the roadway, get an assessment of the condition and help provide the information people need to manage the roads well," Huft said.

Paulson says he sees this being a quick, easy, and less expensive way to better local roads in our state.

"It's just a cost effective way to take pictures in the sky and the photos you get out of it are really interesting and provide a view you normally can't get," said Matthew Paulson.

The Hexacopter to research roadways isn't being used anywhere in the country, yet, but Huft hopes soon it will be.

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