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Drones Taking Off In Commercial Construction

Reliable data is imperative for effective communications. Real estate project coordination has historically challenged construction manager’s oversight and client relations. Whether collaborating amongst various building trades (e.g. electricity, steel reinforcement, thermal insulation, roofing) or coordinating between different crews, project directors have frequently encountered a lack of reliable data. Many have turned to bird’s-eye views, however traditional aerial methods have been both time-consuming and expensive. Elevated perspectives through cranes, lifts, fixed cameras and helicopters have often proven inadequate due to cost and stringent height and proximity limitations.

Few were therefore surprised, when a throng of construction firms began queuing for permission to use drones from the Federal Aviation Administration who began to authorize commercial drone usage late last year. Industry leaders like Bechtel Group, Danis Building, and DPR Construction have all sought to implement drones in project surveying, oversight, and marketing/advertising. While firms have been mum about business specifics, most have agreed that drones will inevitably become indispensible in their day-to-day operations.

Drones have many uses and numerous clear benefits

Drones facilitate surveying and project management and the resulting aerial data can be processed into all manner of 2D/3D models for GIS and CAD purposes. Orthomosaics, point clouds, and even elevation maps are just clicks away with drone oriented software like Pix4D.

Drones can get to hard to access places. Drones have even gathered data on traditionally dangerous or difficult-to-access areas with ease, such as demolition sites or wetland environments. As setup is practically nonexistent, the data can be routinely updated without hassle. Project blueprints can additionally be superimposed over generated models and GPS coordinates can be inputted -- enabling measurements within centimeters of accuracy. These benefits lead to heightened communication among internal staff, which in turn manifests as quality.

Drones bring attractive new perspectives for construction project marketing and advertising. Danis Building in particular has displayed time lapsed images taken by a drone throughout one of its hospitals currently under construction. In addition to demonstrating progress to clients, these images might very well attract future business interests. The ultra high-resolution recordings -- certain drone models are capable of taking 4K images and 60 fps video -- can be used in commercials and brochures as well. Certainly, with advanced camera stabilization and gimbals, drones are capable of achieving breathtaking results far superior to conventional ground methods.

Although UAVs demonstrate tremendous promise in construction, that’s not to say they have not also presented some unintended challenges. Many firms are finding it much easier to purchase a drone than it is to actually operate one. Indeed, several firms have spent thousands of dollars on brand-new drone equipment only to have them promptly crash. Other firms struggle to make sense of captured data, as it may be low quality or beyond processing abilities. In the end, businesses are increasingly relying on commercially certified companies like DroneView Technologies to provide aerial imaging solutions and subject matter expertise.

Justin Wood

JPW Design Studio, California

Minimalist Website Designer