Supervisors authorize acquisition of drone to serve as agency’s eye in the sky

RIVERSIDE – The Riverside County Board of Supervisors authorized the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District to procure an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, to be used for mapping missions and to monitor channels.

In a 4-0 vote without comment – and with Supervisor Chuck Washington out sick – the board cleared the way for flood control officials to spend $90,575 on the acquisition of a Microdrone mdMapper 1000DG UAV and the training required to operate it.

The remote-controlled drone is manufactured by Anaheim-based Allen Instruments & Supplies. It will be a key component in completing mapping projects and monitoring flood channels and basins on a regular basis to ensure there are no obstructions or hazards, according to the Flood Control and Water Conservation District.

Officials said several Federal Aviation Administration-certified UAV pilots were retained to evaluate the practicality of deploying a drone, and the tests have proven the camera-equipped aerial vehicles are efficient and will help the county save money.

“The UAV utilizes geo-referencing measurement technologies to achieve engineering grade mapping with minimal survey ground control,” according to an agency statement.

Officials estimated the district could save $70,000 in the first year of the drone’s operation, and up to $100,000 annually afterward.

The district will rely on property tax revenue allotments to pay for the UAV.

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