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Massachusetts Department of Transportation receives $1 million federal grant to use new drone technology

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded a $1 million grant to the state to allow officials to experiment with using drones and other unmanned aerial systems for highway construction and to assist in emergencies.

The grant to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is among eight totaling $6.6 million earmarked for highway innovations. Others were issued to Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, North Carolina, Massachusetts and the Pawnee Nation in Oklahoma.

The state grant will be used for systems “that can improve the agency’s ability to survey terrain before and after emergencies, improve worker safety through remote mapping and accelerate construction,” according to an announcement from Elaine L. Chao, the federal secretary for transportation.

The funding is earmarked to enhance safety and rebuild infrastructure using cutting-edge innovations. The hope is the new technology can be nationwide if it proves successful, the announcement said.

“These federal grants will advance innovative transportation solutions to improve safety and mobility on America’s roadways,” Chao said.

The Accelerated Innovation Deployment program has provided 110 grants, valued at more than $80 million, to help federal land management agencies, local and tribal governments, metropolitan planning organizations, and state departments of transportation accelerate the use of innovations in transportation. The program began in 2014.

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