Engineer’s office to purchase drone-based survey system

By Kelsey Kimbler -

EATON — In response to the potential construction of solar facilities in the county, the Preble County Engineer’s office plans to purchase a light imaging and data ranging system for its drone.

According to Engineer Kyle Cross, this system will shoot laser pulses and receives a return, ultimately collecting survey data.

Cross presented information on the potential purchase during a county commissioners meeting on Monday, Feb. 25.

“Part of the reason for this, is some concerns with the proposed solar farms coming in. I feel that this is the one component missing on data collection for our roads, to really have a complete assessment and catalogue of what we have,” Cross said.

He added, the cost of the request is $83,879 and there is only one manufacturer of the product for the drone’s use.

“So, basically, you buy this piece of equipment and this will pretty much eliminate a lot of your field work. You will have to do some verifications, but once you go out and verify the data points, you can go out and do what your crew can technically do in 20 minutes that takes them two or three days,” Commissioner Chris Day said.

“There will be surveying still required, but what this will do is, it is really non-biased. So we wouldn’t have to have return trips, where we look at an area here and an area here. With the solar projects, it is the same way. That is the catalyst, to a degree, but it wouldn’t be limited to that,” Cross said.

“Technically, the thing could pay for itself over the next several months,” Commissioner Rodney Creech said.

Cross added, the technology should be good for the next five to 10 years. This equipment has the same accuracy as the office’s current survey equipment, but should save significant time.

“At this point, we’re not sure if the solar is coming, but is this something that we need to go ahead and get so we’re ready, or is it something we need to wait closer to green light?” Creech asked. “To me it sounds like we could use it and need it without solar, but is it something you want to do right away?”

Cross answered, “the sooner the better” so the office can get experience using the new equipment before the solar facilities ever come to exist, if they do.

“Take the solar project out of it, we can utilize this at the landfill, we can utilize this on ditches,” Day said. “My point is, you could utilize this tomorrow. It is not like we are buying this just for the solar project.

“I think this is a great option, I think there are a lot of possibilities. I think the biggest thing is, [Cross] has to figure out how we can utilize this the best.”

The board approved a resolution authorizing the expenditure of $83,879 for the proposed survey system to use on various county projects.

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH