Union Pacific Corp. (UNP), the railroad created with a stroke of Abraham Lincoln’s pen, is now tinkering with the next wave of transportation technology: drones.
While Internet companies such as Amazon Inc. (AMZN) dream of aerial deliveries and Google Inc. studies high-altitude robot craft to provide Web access, basic industries are also poised to join the ranks of early adopters. Rail carriers, utilities and pipeline operators all could make use of the kind of surveillance performed by U.S. Air Force drones.
Equipped with a camera, the shoe-box-sized aircraft would be perfect for safety checks on Union Pacific’s 400 miles (640 kilometers) of bridges, Chief Executive Officer Jack Koraleski said. He and other senior managers saw their first demonstration of a helicopter-style drone on April 21.