Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Hydraulics Inspection Vehicle Explorer (HIVE)

Hydraulic Inspection Vehicle ExplorerThe Hydraulic Inspection Vehicle Explorer (HIVE) is an enhanced radio-operated car, which allows MnDOT to inspect culverts and pipes to determine if any repairs or replacement is needed. Culverts and pipes are often too small or inaccessible for visual inspection by a person, but one specialist at the site can send in the small vehicle via radio control. Mounted with a camera and lights, HIVE can view conditions and record video for later review. It has discovered damage in culverts underneath roads long before the problem becomes an emergency. The device was modified by Rochester MnDOT workers in the inventory department, who are experienced radio-operated car hobbyists. They have built a HIVE device for each MnDOT district and created an online guide for parts, repairs and operation to allow all MnDOT users to access the information when issues arise.

Better Inspections, Better Data, Better Decisions

Thanks to HIVE, eight culverts were flagged for repair needed because large joint separations or broken flanges with exposed soil were detected by video far into the pipe. In another case study, an end-of-pipe inspection showed significant pipe damage that would typically result in a full replacement costing about $45,000. However, HIVE video footage showed that the damage was limited to just 12 feet of the pipe near the end. Instead of replacing the entire pipe, a $1,000 repair was implemented resulting in $44,000 savings.


  • Waterproof
  • Wi-Fi transmission
  • 4x4 drive
  • $1,200 vehicle/camera
  • $300 tablet
  • Transported in 11”x17” box
  • Observed Range
    • 24-inch diameter =~ 250 feet
    • 18-inch diameter =~ 150 feet
    • 12-inch diameter =~ 50 feet



  • Minnesota Governor’s Better Government Award (2016)
  • AASHTO-RAC Sweet Sixteen High-Value Research Projects (2017)

Build Your Own

More Information

Enhanced Culvert Inspections Best Practices Guidebook

Webinar: Enhanced Pipe Inspection Research

Researcher Doug Youngblood, CDM Smith, describes technologies that go beyond end-of-pipe inspections from MnDOT’s new guidebook on enhanced culvert inspections.