A DroneDeploy survey from last year reveals construction drones are expected to take on a greater array of responsibilities, including interior- and below-grade data capture, thermal and facade monitoring, and excavation mapping enabled by lidar. Pandemic lockdowns and social distancing have “really pushed the envelope” for on-site drones, says Michael Brown, CEO of Drone Services Canada.
Drones arrived on the construction scene a few years ago, primarily for the purpose of providing visual overviews. This was a breakthrough for marketing, client presentations and general site inspection. Now thanks to technology developments over the past couple of years, aerial drone capabilities have expanded significantly further.
“The drone platforms have almost settled in concrete today,” Michael Brown, CEO of Drone Services Canada Inc. told the Daily Commercial News. “They have really been refined. Now it’s all about changing the payload, whether it’s a camera, a laser, a sensor or a light. That’s what’s changing.”
In combination with advances in drone capabilities has come the need for construction companies to become more efficient and productive. While that might mean cost cutting in some areas, the reverse seems to be true when it comes to investment in technology, according to data released by Gartner Inc.
Specific to drone usage, a 2020 survey conducted by U.S. flight service provider DroneDeploy revealed that 90 per cent of respondents “expect to increase or maintain their spend on drones/drone software.” This includes moving beyond aerial mapping to include interior and below grade data capture. Furthermore, builders are looking to drones to provide thermal and façade inspections, and LiDAR/PointCloud mapping of excavations in combination with planning overlays.
LiDAR (Light detection and ranging) is a remote sensing technology used for measuring the exact distance of an object on the earth’s surface. A scanner, laser and a GPS receiver are the three primary components of a LiDAR instrument, in combination with photo detectors and optics for data collection.