(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) – Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) is launching the Alaska Rural Remote Operations Work Plan (ARROW) Program. ARROW is an innovative initiative that will greatly improve emergency response capabilities in rural Alaskan communities. By providing Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) and access to a shared geographic information system (GIS), communities will be better equipped to respond to natural and man-made disasters, protecting critical infrastructure and ensuring the safety of residents in these remote areas.
The program is made possible through a US Department of Transportation (USDOT) Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grant Program, a competitive grant program that funds projects using technology interventions to solve real-world challenges facing communities today.
In addition to funding provided by USDOT, the ARROW Program leverages a strategic partnership between the Federal Aviation Administration’s BEYOND Program and Alaska Center for UAS Integration (ACUASI) allowing DOT&PF and community partners to begin utilizing UAS beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) for critical infrastructure inspection.
ARROW will enable remote communities to conduct BVLOS missions using UAS, allowing them to collect critical data for a shared statewide GIS. The data will be used in response to natural and man-made disasters affecting critical infrastructure in historically underserved communities. This is particularly important in Alaska, where many remote communities are vulnerable to natural disasters like earthquakes, wildfires, floods, and extreme weather events.
“UAS technology will ensure that emergency responders are dispatched quickly to protect critical infrastructure and potentially save lives following a disaster in rural Alaska,” said Governor Mike Dunleavy.
Skydio, the leading U.S. drone manufacturer and world leader in autonomous flight, will supply the UAS for the project. “We have consistently seen the positive impact drone technology can have on public safety and critical infrastructure resilience, especially in remote, hard-to-reach areas,” said Adam Bry, CEO of Skydio. “We congratulate the Alaska DOT on receiving the SMART Grant and look forward to partnering with them to support the Alaska Rural Remote Operations Work Plan.”
The initiative is made possible through the USDOT’s SMART Grants Program. Created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), the $500M program provides competitive grants to transportation agencies conducting purpose-driven innovation using various forms of advanced technology, including UAS. SMART also focuses on building data and technology capacity and experience for State, local, and Tribal governments.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 237 airports, 9 ferries serving 35 communities along 3,500 marine miles, over 5,600 miles of highway and 839 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska. The mission of the department is to “Keep Alaska Moving through service and infrastructure.”