Drone Use in Accident Scene Reconstruction

Case Center 2021-09-17
Drone Use in Accident Scene Reconstruction

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In order to determine fault following traffic accidents,authorities must gather an extensive amount of spatialinformation from the scene. Everything from precise vehiclelocations 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 minutedetails can be time-consuming and, inmany cases, dangerous. According toa study by the Virginia TransportationResearch Council, for every 2-3 minutesat the scene of an accident in a hightraffic area, the likelihood of a secondarycrash 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 dangersmake it imperative for investigators tocollect spatial information as quicklyas possible to clear the roadway ofobstructions faster and minimize timeon site.

Traditional methods requireinvestigators to lay out measuringtape and document the scene usingdigital cameras, a process that mighttake up to six hours on its own. Whilemodern investigators have begun usingtechnology such as laser scanners andtotal stations to record distances and map the scene, the process still takes two to three hours.

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With the number of traffic incidentsexpected to increase as urbangrowth pushes road infrastructureand traffic congestion to criticalcapacity, authorities have begun toadd unmanned aerial technologyto their toolkits. Using drones, firstresponders are able map the sceneand gather all the data needed tobuild comprehensive 3D models in aslittle as 15-20 minutes. The technologymeans less time and less risk for thoseat the scene, and the ability to build3D models gives investigators theopportunity to analyze the scene fromevery angle and viewpoint during postexamination. With the addition of anRTK module, drones can easily capturecentimeter-accurate location data toensure each 3D rendering mirrors thescene precisely.

Article by Autel Robotics all rights reserved.