Flying drones around the Husker Harvest Days show site is nothing new. However, UAVs have been hovering around the show site in the off-season this past summer as well, not for use in agriculture, but in training exercises for the Nebraska State Patrol.
Lt. Brent Bockstadter, NSP coordinator for the Crash Reconstruction Program, says the Husker Harvest Days site has proven optimal for UAV pilot training for his troopers. These UAVs are being used to document accident scenes. According to Bockstadter, the use of drones for documentation speeds up crash site cleanup, so traffic flow is not impeded as long. He says it saves time and money on investigations of accident scenes to create a reliable report of the scene.
“At the Husker Harvest Days site, we have paved streets and intersections to allow us to replicate accident scenes,” Bockstadter says. “It allows us to do the training without using normal roadways.”
3 weeks of training
NSP used the HHD site this past summer on three separate weeks to do training for their troopers in flying the drones. “Nebraska State Patrol has trained 20 of our Crash Reconstruction personnel as UAV pilots from across the state for this project, to cover the six Troop Areas that we divide the NSP operations up in the state,” Bockstadter says.
“Based upon a projection of responding to a similar number of Crash Reconstruction investigations for serious injury or fatal crashes, and the published cost per hour for a road closure to the Commercial Vehicle Industry and private motorists, we project a nearly $2 million savings per year to motoring public” through the use of UAVs in this manner, he says.
The mapping system being used is relatively new this year. “This mapping system will be our primary method of scene documentation at all of the Crash Reconstruction scenes we respond to whenever possible,” Bockstadter says. “The only limitations to using this system are scenes with active precipitation in the form of rain or snow, or extreme winds.”
For the trainees, HHD has provided a safe and realistic training area that is out of the motoring public with simulated roadways.
“We are able to spread out in the open-air space to provide adequate room for the flight training and to stage up mock crash scenes for practical scenario-based training,” Bockstadter says.