UAS Railroad Inspection Services

We Specialize in UAS Inspections of Rail Bridges and Rail Infrastructure


Unmanned Experts is revolutionizing rail bridge inspections.  We are the leading provider of safe, accurate, and efficient railroad bridge inspections and inspection reports that are fully compliant with the CFR Title 49, Part 237 Bridge Safety Standards.

The rail bridge inspection category is ripe for the drone revolution.  There are approximately 100,000 railroad bridges in the US that are part of the critical rail infrastructure. These require detailed inspections at least every 5 years.  Yet 20% of the bridges are too high to inspect from the ground, or are over bodies of water, requiring lifts, barges, or personnel on hoists. And traditional inspections generally require rail traffic interruptions.

Unmanned Experts brings the benefits of UAS technology to bridge inspection projects.  Using drones that can capture images from any location, including underneath structures, inspections can be done with less time, less cost, more accuracy, and – more safety!

We specialize in operating in remote or inaccessible locations.  Our inspection data outputs are based on industry-standard references, and we augment these with cutting edge presentations including 3D images.  Our clients access their data online, simplifying their inspection reviews and responses.  UMEX team members have completed the Railroad Bridge Inspection course taught by the University of Wisconsin College of Engineering.

In the next few years, UAS technology will become another valuable tool in the railroad industry’s toolbox. This was highlighted in the February 2017 edition of RT&S (Railway Track and Structures) Magazine. In an article entitled “Giving the Railroad Industry A Bird’s Eye View,” the magazine quoted UMEX rail industry advisor Dennis Wierzbicki saying that “Unmanned aircraft will be considered a normal part of the railroad bridge inspection (process) relatively soon.” (Click here to read the RT&S article.)

In its March 2017 edition, Progressive Railroading magazine explored the promises and challenges of integrating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into railroad operations.  The magazine reached out to Dennis Wierzbicki of Unmanned Experts for his perspective on the industry’s accelerating embrace of UAVs: “We like to say that using a drone is better, faster, cheaper and safer…Because drones are small and nimble, they can more easily access places that otherwise would be precarious to reach.  That means less risk of injury for railroad workers.” (Click here for the Progressive Railroading article.)

Recent Railroad and Bridge Inspection Projects:

Steel Railroad Lift Bridge

Steel Railroad Lift Bridge:

UMEX was commissioned to conduct an aerial inspection on a 19th century, still-active through steel truss, vertical lift, railroad bridge, with timber trestle approaches, spanning a heavily-used commercial waterway.  Using several aircraft types and operating from both shore and a boat, the UMEX team photographed and videoed the bridge from all sides, including underneath.  We delivered a data set and concise data analysis to the customer that included hundreds of close photos of key interest and stress points, as well as 3-dimensional animated views.  The customer utilized the results to identify unknown potential issues with the structure, and to evaluate the load-carrying capacity of the bridge.

Closed Traffic Bridge:

An engineering firm managing the renovation of a city’s closed and neglected traffic bridge had Unmanned Experts document the status and progress of the engineering work. This spring, after several days of drone flights around the bridge, we delivered a detailed image set that helped the engineers complete final checks of the project. The bridge was re-opened to a pleased community this past August.

More Highlights of Unmanned Expert’s Extensive Railroad Structure Inspection Experience:

Hinged Steel Arch Deck Truss Railroad Bridge (2015)

  • Sommerset, WI
  • With Deck Plate Girder Approaches
  • Spanning the St. Croix River, active waterway
  • Length: 2682 ft.
  • Height: 184 ft.
Steel Warren Deck Truss Railroad Bridge (2015)

  • Morrison County, MN
  • Spanning the Mississippi River
  • Downstream from Blanchard Hydroelectric Dam
  • Length: 605 ft.
  • Height: 50 feet over rapids
Steel Deck Truss And Deck Plate Girder Railroad Bridge (2016)

  • Missoula, MT
  • Spanning the Clark Fork River
  • Length: 884 ft.
  • Height: Approx. 65 ft.

Bring Your Inspection Processes into the 21st Century!

Ask us how we can partner with you to do railroad infrastructure inspections that provide a detailed, safe, and cost-effective return-on-investment.