Making the case for drones in the rail industry

Railroads are constantly on the hunt for technologies to help them improve safety and operations. Over the years, they've explored predictive analytics, driverless train systems and a host of other emerging technologies to do just that.

Now, some railroaders are beginning to turn their attention to drones, which are also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Drone experts argue that these camera-equipped devices could help railroads inspect track, secure yards, manage vegetation growth and more.

"We like to say using a drone is better, faster, cheaper and safer," one UAV expert told me last month.

For a feature in our March issue, I reached out to three drone companies to learn a bit more about the technology. Check out what I've learned here.

Do you think drones will become more common in the rail industry? Or is the technology still something of a novelty? As always, I'd be glad to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on progressiverailroading.com.

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