On the face of it, drones and construction sites seem a strange combination. But you'd be surprised at how many construction sites are already relying on aerial capabilities and making use of an eye in the sky.
Increasingly, clever drone software is allowing commercial operators to map out sites in with precision, before, during and after construction work has taken place. And with the price of both software and hardware beginning to fall, radical improvements in efficiency are no longer as expensive as they once might have been.
As an example, the MIT Technology Review recently featured a construction operation in downtown Sacramento. “Once per day, several drones automatically patrol the Sacramento work site, collecting video footage. That footage is then converted into a three-dimensional picture of the site, which is fed into software that compares it to computerized architectural plans as well as the construction work plan showing when each element should be finished. The software can show managers how the project is progressing, and can automatically highlight parts that may be falling behind schedule.”
This is a great example of smart software able to incorporate drone data into the understanding of a bigger picture. In this case, a constant stream of data is fed into an established 3D picture of the site, enabling managers to see how work is progressing and if there are problems that need to be solved.
Legal Questions Remain
There are still a few outstanding issues holding back more construction companies from embracing the obvious potential of drone technology. Not least are issues over privacy, liability, and insurance.
First and foremost, commercial operators in the US are required to have gained an exemption from the FAA in order to fly for business purposes. On top of that, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the invasion of privacy of workers and nearby residents. Many standard commercial insurance providers don't have anything in place for drone liability.
In terms of safety, construction companies would do well to only use qualified, experienced pilots. However, new and improved flight planning software, such as that offered by ourselves here at Airnest, is a smarter way to draw up paths and let the drone do the hard work or you.