Practical applications of drone technology
Drone-based aerial photography, filming, inspection, surveys, 2D mapping & 3D modelling can not only offer unrivalled images & data but they also offer a much reduced health and safety risk.: there are no people, plants or other obstructions up in the air. Commercially developed drones have in-built safety features including battery power monitoring, return to home functionality in the event of a loss of GPS signal and geo-fencing (preventing a drone from flying in 'no-fly' zones). If operated correctly, the drone knows the precise location where it took off and if the battery runs low, the drone simply returns home (if the home location has been set propertly!); equally, a switch on the remote control unit achieves the same result.
Minimal disruption: while the pilot requires a clear line of sight of the drone at all times it can operate it from a distance of up to 400ft up and 500m out (yes the units of measurement are different). Consequentlly, unlike a cherry picker, scaffolding or tower that may obstruct an access or take-up valuable parking spaces, a sufficient safety zone can be easily set-up within the building or structure's footprint. Depending on the site, the risk assessment can also help to minimise any risk to a business or its staff and develop and effective flight plan for the specific conditions on the site.
Higher quality images: a camera mounted on a drone can take photographs at predefined intervals along with with continuous film footage. Images obtained in this way are very high resolution, enabling the image to be blown up and reveal high levels of details. The images can also be distributed online within a few hours of the survey being completed, or if required, downloaded onto removable media while on site.
Greatly reduced survey time: in contrast to conventional methods ie cherry pickers, towers, scissor lifts or scaffolding etc, a drone can be ready to fly in approximately 15 minutes. The usual flight time is 20 minutes (per battery and depending on wind speed and ambient temperature) and can cover relatively large areas. Because the drone can fly in different directions and heights over the target building, images are easily obtained from various angles.
Environmentally friendly: because the sort of drones used in construction are powered by rechargeable batteries, drones do not generate any nasty pollutants. The only potential disturbance is the sound of the rotors and potentially any distraction to passing traffic (which needs to be considered)
Access: in many cases it may simply not be possible to use a cherry picker, tower, scissor lift or scaffolding etc to reach a roof or high-level elevation due to access limitations or load constraints, which could result in restrictively high costs. Not only are the costs of using a drone relatively significantly lower, but they are easily transported on public transport for example, and need only an area of about a couple of car parking spaced to be set up (but requiring 30 metres of clearance from other people's land or property on take-off / landing).
CITB CSCS Health, Safety & Environment accredited pilots: having such qualified pilots, as with Thames Valley Drones, means that construction clients are able / more willing to put our pilots through their own Health & Safety training, enabling us to work with clients on live construction / CSCS-controlled sites.
Specific benefits of drones for surveyors
While carrying out the survey, a surveyor can be given a separate tablet streaming a 'live' feed of the drone’s view of the building or structure. The monitor works over the internet via a YouTube link, allowing surveyors to remain off-site or indoors. Clients and residents / tenants can also view the live link at the same time, if required.
Surveyors can request more detail or time in the event of unexpected issues as may elements are only visible once the drone is in the air.
2D mapping & 3D modelling
Enabling the documentation and measurement of sites from the air and the monitoring of construction sites as they evolve using geo-referenced orthophotos / orthomosaics and 3D data collected by drone. View the as-built situation of your site for up-to-date measurements and continued analysis, making earthwork management and detailed virtual inspections more efficient.
2D mapping & 3D modelling also offers:
non-invasive data capture, there is not need for teams to be on site or interfere with site activity
volumetrics for stockpiles and earthworks or precise measurements of structures and areas
location of defects in 3D from images, visualise structural details from multiple angles, model the thermal behaviour of buidlings or panels and obtain orthophotos from any plane
generation of 3D point clouds to measure, edit and inspect
generation of facade orthomosaics (orthoplanes) to get detailed views of the facades of structures
thermal modeling to obtain informationthat standrd RGB images can't, detect hotspots, water leakaage etc with thermal maps and models
ability to readily compare current build with design drawings
easily repeatable data collection providing regular as-built updates
shareable, analysable data via The Cloud.
Why not see our 2D mapping & 3D modelling project.
Of course there are a couple of drawbacks to using a drone to inspect / survey. These are:
It's not advisable to fly a drone in strong or gusting winds. Despite their GPS technology, they can be pushed off course and if they strike a tree or building, you could be looking at a replacement drone or potentially worse.
Drones cannot fly in heavy rain, impacting the sophisticated electronics, the GPS signal and image quality.
Obviously drones should not be flown in severe weather especially thundestorms (no matter what the temptation), where no electrical items should be used especially outdoors and where individuals could be put at risk.
For more information just call 01628 436 494 or email the team at