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04/10/2019 04:00 PM

North Dakota’s UAS Integration Pilot Program working with local officials to use drones to monitor flood conditions

Photo cutline: UAS (drone) photo shows overland flooding along ND Highway 54 north of Grand Forks, ND.


The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) and Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS) are working with local officials in eastern North Dakota flood regions utilizing Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to monitor overland and urban flooding events.

Working in partnership with Botlink, County and City officials, the NDDOT and Northern Plains UAS Test Site are providing UAS (drone) operations to monitor river and overland flooding, infrastructure damage and other information in Grand Forks, Fargo urban areas as well as other flood designated rural areas.

“We’re excited to provide UAS technology to help deliver vital flood information to local officials during this critical time in North Dakota,” says NDDOT Director Tom Sorel.

Nicholas Flom, Executive Director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site says “Employing UAS for these type of operations helps local officials understand real-time decision making in regard to flood response efforts. In addition, the collection of aerial imagery will help to improve historical information to create a foundation for future response efforts.”

Northern Plains UAS Test Site is working with local officials to establish UAS credentials that enable safe and secure drone operations for flood event monitoring over regional areas in North Dakota. Organizations providing drone equipment and operators at this time include Northern Plains UAS Test Site, Botlink, EASE Drones, UND Aerospace, and UND Aerospace Foundation.

Working with officials during emergency situations is a key component of North Dakota’s work to safely incorporate technology as part of the federal UAS Integration Pilot Program,” state Russ Buchholz, UAS Program Administrator at NDDOT.

In 2018, US DOT selected the North Dakota Department of Transportation as one of 10 participants in the Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS Integration Pilot Program. The North Dakota team is working to safely incorporate UAS technology in three core challenge areas identified through the US DOT and Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS Integration Pilot Program, which are flying over people, night operations, and beyond visual line of sight.

NDDOT and Northern Plains UAS Test Site are working together with partners and stakeholders to accomplish the IPP’s mission to provide operational efficiencies, create new opportunities, build the industry to grow the economy, reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The three-year program gives state, local and tribal governments a chance to establish innovation zones for testing complex UAS operations.

The State of North Dakota is a leader in transportation and UAS advancement, NDDOT and Northern Plains UAS Test Site have strong connections with private and public stakeholders and will work in a collaborative effort with these connections to solidify additional avenues of exploration for UAS use.  


About North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) - The NDDOT manages more than 8,622 roadway miles of highway and 1,722 state bridges, as well as provides driver’s license and motor vehicle services. The agency works on innovative technologies to help meet its mission to provide a transportation system that safely moves people and goods. Visit                                                                                               

About Northern Plains UAS Test Site - The Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS) is one of seven Federal Aviation Administration UAS test sites in the nation. The mission of the test site is to collaborate with FAA and industry partners to develop, systems, rules and procedures to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System without negatively impacting existing general or commercial aviation. For more info, visit

About Botlink - Botlink was founded in Fargo, N.D. by military pilots and engineers with the intent to safely share the benefits of drones. Botlink is a cloud-based operations platform that links drones to industry in real time. The platform allows users to capture, process and deliver aerial imagery. Botlink also provides automated drone control and safety features allowing operators to remain safe and compliant with complex flight regulations. For more information visit:

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