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For Immediate Release: 03/22/23
Contact: Office of Media Relations and Communications | (518) 471-5300 |


SMART Grants Program Recognizes Projects that Improve Transportation Efficiency and Safety

Drone Program Used for Inspections, Data Collection and Documentation

The New York State Thruway Authority today announced its selection for a $1.5 million federal grant as part of the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program. The grant will fund the Authority’s Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) drone program, which launched in 2021.

“The use of drone technology in transportation provides exciting opportunities to improve infrastructure and increase effectiveness of inspections, data collection and more,” Thruway Authority Interim Executive Director Frank Hoare said. “We would like to thank the U.S. Department of Transportation for recognizing this innovative project with the SMART Grant, and we look forward to the continued progress of the Authority’s UAS drone program.”

The Authority applied for the SMART Grant in September 2022 and was named one of 59 recipients by the U.S. Department of Transportation to receive grants totaling more than $94 million. The SMART Grants program aims to help communities leverage technology to create safer, more efficient and innovative transportation systems.

The Thruway Authority is spearheading the use of UAS aviation technology for transportation infrastructure within New York State and is dedicated to development of aerial technology, which serves to improve transportation safety and efficiency.

The Authority’s UAS drone program improves information gathering, enhancing bridge inspections and assisting in other areas of operation, including construction, maintenance, IT and traffic operations. 

With funding from the SMART Grant, and assistance from the Authority’s non-profit partner Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance, Inc. (NUAIR), the Authority will have the necessary resources to further develop the next generation of technology and to enhance the accuracy and efficiency of the collection and analysis of critical data.

The SMART Grants Program was established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. While the Thruway Authority did not receive any portion of the $13.5 billion formula funding obligated to New York in the Act, the Thruway Authority is an eligible applicant for some of these grant opportunities, such as the SMART Grants Program.

The Authority will now work with the U.S. Department of Transportation in executing a grant agreement prior to the disbursement of award funds.