Consumer and industrial drones have been a revolutionary technology of the 21st century. They presently benefit construction projects greatly. In the future, we can expect them to do even more.
UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), more commonly called drones, have already found a few profitable niches in construction. They represent a cheap and efficient way to do quite a few things that were once much more expensive, time consuming, and difficult. How are they profitably used now, and what lies ahead in the future?
Drones present the ability to easily and quickly get to hard-to-reach locations. This is useful because it removes the necessity to bring actual people there. Drones can record everything they see easily and efficiently, with no more expensive camera equipment and manual picture taking. Finally, drones are able to be equipped with various types of technology, meaning their uses are myriad. They can become a flexible and integral part of any commercial contractor’s arsenal of tools.
Present uses for construction drones.
Mapping once required a team of surveyors working for hours or days. Surveying is a part of the construction process involving specialized equipment and contractors with special training. Now, a construction site can be mapped out in a fraction of the same time with drone technology.
A drone can fly over a construction sight and check it out with cameras and lidar. It can make accurate topographical maps, assess the land, and collect the data into a concise format. The drone will save all of the data to it’s internal SD card (solid disk, or memory card). This data can then be uploaded to private servers and accessed by stakeholders from anywhere in the world. The ability of drones to get places people simply can’t, and do it easily and for very little cost is what makes them an ideal tool for mapping and surveying.
The same ability of drones to get places easily, quickly, and at a low cost makes them great at building inspection. Drones are currently used to inspect high parts of buildings and wind turbines for damage and possible areas that require repair. They are fantastic at assessing the higher-up outside parts of buildings that it would take a ropes access technician to get to over the course of hours.
Drones’ inspection abilities mean that it is possible to easily and cheaply perform maintenance and assess building values. Problem areas can be found in minutes and plans can be instantly formed to address those issues.
Monitoring construction sites.
Again, the ability of a drone to be an eye in the sky is not to be underestimated. On top of mapping, surveying, and inspection, drones can keep a watchful eye on what is presently happening at a job site in real time. What once required helicopters now can be done with battery-operated tiny vehicles.
Drone monitoring includes improvements along the following lines:
- Assessing worksite safety. Drones can spot who isn’t wearing helmets/hardhats. They can analyze high areas that have a risk of equipment falling. Drones can also quickly be sent to check the general safety of a construction worksite to see if work needs to be changed or halted.
- Showing progress. Regular drone inspection can be used to make great time-lapse videos of the over-all progress of a work site. This is beneficial because a construction contractor can keep clients happy by showing the daily changes made to a whole site. Other stakeholders can be reassured that progress is on-time, as work done can be clearly demonstrated.
Drone’s monitoring abilities help keep work sites on track, on budget, and on time. They also help ensure worker safety, which can avoid expensive damage to workers and equipment.
The future of drones in construction.
It’s hard to say exactly what will happen in the future, but there are some good guesses out there. As drone technology improves, drones will become more resilient, efficient, powerful, and capable.
There are already companies who have plans to use drones to lift fire hoses to high-up floors in buildings during fires. Currently, they aid with spotlights, thermal imaging, and damage assessment in firefighting and emergencies.
The future will no doubt see drones capable of heavier and heavier lifting. This means drones that will be able to deliver materials to construction sites, as well as lift up equipment and building materials to high-up locations at those sites. Perhaps someday in the distant future, teams of large industrial drones will do the work that cranes once did.
There are already drones that can move people. There are taxi and passenger drone companies currently in operation. However, these technologies are new and subject to much regulation, making them not widespread or commonly-seen.
In the future, as the law catches up with technology, and technology improves, drones can be important in several ways involving transporting individuals. One of the most important for the construction industry would be moving people in emergency situations. Imagine a worker has been injured while on the top floor of a skyscraper, or while suspended from ropes. Rather than have other people get to this worker, a drone could reach him/her in minutes and take him down to safety or even to a hospital. In this sense, it’s easy to see how drones have the capability to save lives.
Of course, there are some hurdles.
Drones already benefit construction, and they stand to help it a lot more. However, there are still persistent legal hurdles. Until the laws and technology mesh better, things will still be done the old-fashioned way. Although we keep on top of the cutting edge of technology at Reliable Commercial, we are experts in traditional construction. Whether you are looking for renovations, tilt-up construction, or a private contractor to assess whether a new business building will be profitable, we can help. Our 35 plus years of experience and team of over 200 means no job is too large or too difficult. Contact us today to get started on your project.