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Drone Use in Accident Scene Reconstruction

Drone Use in Accident Scene Reconstruction

In order to determine fault following traffic accidents,authorities must gather an extensive amount of spatialinformation from the scene. Everything from precise vehicle locations to skid marks must be documented and measured toprovide accurate information about the nature of the collisionfor subsequent analysis and reference in legal proceedings,which could take place months later.

While crucial, acquiring these minute details can be time-consuming and, inmany cases, dangerous. According toa study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council, for every 2-3 minutes at the scene of an accident in a high traffic area, the likelihood of a secondary crash increases by 1 percentage point.This means that the longer a roadwayis blocked off to preserve the crash site,the higher the chances of pedestrians oron-the-ground personnel being injuredin another accident. These dangers make it imperative for investigators tocollect spatial information as quicklyas possible to clear the roadway ofobstructions faster and minimize timeon site.

Traditional methods require investigators to lay out measuring tape and document the scene usingdigital cameras, a process that might take up to six hours on its own. While modern investigators have begun using technology such as laser scanners andtotal stations to record distances and map the scene, the process still takes two to three hours.


With the number of traffic incidents expected to increase as urban growth pushes road infrastructure and traffic congestion to critical capacity, authorities have begun to add unmanned aerial technology to their toolkits. Using drones, first responders are able map the scene and gather all the data needed to build comprehensive 3D models in aslittle as 15-20 minutes. The technology means less time and less risk for those at the scene, and the ability to build3D models gives investigators the opportunity to analyze the scene fromevery angle and view point during post examination. With the addition of anRTK module, drones can easily capture centimeter-accurate location data toensure each 3D rendering mirrors thescene precisely.

The Autel EVO II Pro has been used for rescue since it's release.

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