Idea: Salt Drones

Build UAVs able to carry payloads of salt. (Could probably repurpose a set of cropdusters.)

Utilize Google Maps to establish waypoints. Lay salt down on roads, sidewalks if you can swing it via satellite imagery.

Also. If there’s any difference in infrared readings, these things could target only areas below a certain temperature threshold.

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  • Nelson Blaha
    Feb 6, 2010

    Sounds expensive. What about automating salt trucks on the ground?

    • I for one ain’t ready to drive alongside those. Seriously though, multipurpose uavs can enable communities to deliver services while cities and state budgets blink out. No humans and drones are cheap.

  • remind me not to look up when there’s a rain of salt. would lead to interesting rusting patterns with salt getting in the top of your vehicle.
    Living in a cold icy city that uses salt, I find the distribution is non-uniform, not very efficient. They just spray a set amount of salt along their apth. Would be nice if they were smarter about distribution they did, maybe tie truck spreaders sensors that decide on amount (or even size if you had integrated grinders) based on location history and sensors, say. More for intersections, bends, areas with history of accidents or flagged as icy or observed as icy.
    Very similar technology (precision agriculture) could be repurposed quickly. This would save salt costs, distribution times (faster if you don’t have to go back to refill), and environmental damage.

  • hrm. That leads to the idea of a distributed municipal network. put cameras, sensors on each municipal vehicle and do either wholesale grabbing of information a-la google street view and have an real-time ish municipal model or tagged location stuff (i.e. next time a municipal vehicle drives down this street get a full image set0. Other sensors possible.
    You could have detailed graffiti models/tracking, infrastructure state estimates, all deadheading on drones that are already driving around.

  • Anonymouse
    Mar 16, 2010

    A senseless waste of technology if you ask me. Varying the output of existing salt trucks based on conditions seems more efficient a system overall than drones. I wouldn’t want a salt-laden drone buzzing over me, dumping even more salt on my car while I drove under.

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