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Engineers use drones to inspect River Trent weir

Engineers at the Canal and River Trust have used a drone to solve the problem of how they inspect one of the country’s fastest flowing weirs.

Every second around 18,000 gallons of water flows over the Cromwell Weir on the River Trent, meaning engineers couldn’t safely access it to look for damage to the weir or surface water irregularities which may indicate problems below.

Instead a drone mounted camera was flown over the weir at heights of 1m, 20m and 75m above the water surface. Previously inspections of the weir, built around 1960, have been carried out from the river bank using binoculars.

Drones, Canal, River

Source: Canal and River Trust

Drones are used to overcome the problem of inspecting a powerful weir.

Canal and River Trust senior engineer Neil Besley said; “Cromwell Weir is one of the fastest flowing, most powerful weirs on our river network and so inspecting it certainly presents some challenges.

“By using a drone we’ll be able to get a much closer look than would be possible from the riverbank. This is an effective, economical and safe method of identifying problems early on.

 “It’s a great example of how modern technology can help us care for the nation’s historic waterways.”

Readers' comments (2)

  • Barry Walton

    Ah, great modern technology with ancient terminology. How many younger people will know what 18,000 gallons per second means? Are they Imperial gallons or US gallons? Even in those ancient times before we went over to SI units - in schools round about when Ted Heath was Prime Minister, flow rates were in cusecs - cubic feet per second not ambiguous gallons.

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  • Bill Ixer

    This drone technology is here to stay. What a useful tool it is to get at those inaccessible areas where it would cost a fortune in scaffolding or the hire of a steeplejack. What is more, and it can be used for routine inspection of rivers and other watercourses where bank failure has occurred and a record made of where remedial works need to be done. It can also record the scene after work has been carried out.

    Improvements to accuracy are being made all the time and cameras are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Linear Land surveys for roads and railways can be carried out without the initial need for ground teams and can thus help with developing appropriate routes.
    Quite small depressions show up well and these can indicate subsurface problems that are not always seen at ground level. As a tool in the armoury of Engineers it is to be recommended.

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