CDOT Plans Three Day Evaluation Demo of Blimp to Monitor Denver Traffic

June 8, 2015 - Denver Metro/CDOT Region 1 - Denver, CO – Starting tomorrow, the Colorado Department of Transportation will be conducting a three day evaluation demo of a helium-filled blimp to monitor traffic at I-25 and 70th Avenue.

The demo is designed is to evaluate the usefulness of camera viewing at higher altitudes with the goal of obtaining the “big picture” of traffic flow in the Denver area and assist with incident management.

More technically referred to as a Tactically Expedient Aerostat by its manufacturer, SkySentry, the blimp is a 1600 cubic foot stationary aerial device that is part balloon and part kite and is tethered to a mooring platform or mobile ground control station. The aerostat will be flown to heights up to 400 feet to test interoperability with CDOT’s various cameras and existing fiber optic network.

Aerostats are becoming more routinely used in a myriad of applications by law enforcement and other agencies, especially during major events. They are safe, easy to deploy and manage cost-effectively. Should the demo prove successful, other possible benefits could include reducing the number of existing cameras CDOT currently uses to monitor traffic, significantly reducing the cost of equipment. 

The cost for the blimp and platform itself is approximately $50,000. Several cities and DOTs across the United States have considered the use of an aerostat for traffic monitoring including Detroit, but CDOT is the first entity of its kind to actually demo and evaluate its potential use in a metropolitan area.