PacTrans: Guidelines for using Photogrammetric Tools on Unmanned Aircraft Systems to Support the Rapid Monitoring of Avalanche-prone Roadside Environm

AIDC project number:


UW: Ed McCormack

UAF: Nathan Belz



  • Start Date: Aug 16, 2019
  • End Date: Aug 15, 2021

Project Documents

Project Final Report

Project Summary

This research effort addresses the PacTrans’ topic area of Improved Reliability across Modes. Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) technology (i.e. drones) paired with photogrammetric capabilities has the potential to provide rapid feedback on snowpack data that can be used to monitor and forecast avalanche risks.

This data will assist Department of Transportation (DOT) winter maintenance staff who operate snow avalanche programs in the PacTrans region (Washington, Idaho, and Alaska) as well as most other western states with mountains, as they make difficult decisions about when to close and re-open highways in times of high avalanche risk or deploy other means of avalanche mitigation. This research effort creates a decision support tool to assist DOTs in more quickly responding to and mitigating avalanche hazards, opening roads, or avoid closing them at all and thus improving roadway reliability for both freight and passengers.