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What Can UAVs Do For Construction? | D-Construct: Episode 3

The B1M | @TheB1M

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What can UAVs do for the construction industry? Find out in Episode 3 of D-Construct where we catch-up with Leica Geosystems at SkyTech 2016!

You’ll be delighted to know there are lots of new acronyms in this episode. First off UAV stands for ‘Unmanned Aerial Vehicle’, they’re sometimes referred to as ‘drones’ but that term is more commonly associated with military exercises or surveillance.

A close-up of the Aibotix UAV featured in Episode 3 of D-Construct. 

The growth of UAV manufacturing and use has sky-rocketed in recent years (apologies for that pun), largely as technologies have developed and as markets have matured, bringing the entry cost down. UAVs are widely used in other sectors including film production, agriculture and the military as we mentioned. There are even some ideas for parcel delivery in the pipeline from Amazon Prime. But what can they do for the construction industry?

The key use is in the aerial laser scanning of sites to quickly map topography where some serious efficiencies can be realised. “Our UAV can cover 11 hectares in 15 minutes” explains Julian Deeks, a Technical Specialist at Leica Geosystems. The UAV developed by Aibotix – who were acquired by Leica Geosystems’ parent company Hexagon in 2014 – can carry camera kit weighing up to 2kgs. The unit also contains a built in GPS system (Global Positioning Satellite for those of you on acronym watch) enabling more accurate data collection.

"Our UAV can scan 11 hectares in 15 minutes"

Following a pre-entered flight path, the UAV scans and collates point cloud data which can then be imported into 2D and 3D design authoring software. The result is highly accurate site surveys delivered to project teams quickly, generating efficiencies in the overall design and construction periods.

An example of the scan data obtained from an aerial survey with a UAV.

Other construction uses range from site progress monitoring and on-site vehicle management to aerial health and safety inspections, as impersonal as that may sound.

Aerial footage of a construction site obtained from a UAV.

In his catch-up with Basestone’s Alex Siljanovski and Simon McCabe, Julian also expanded on licencing and some of the regulations around flying UAVs. He explains that organisations must first gain their ‘Permission for Aerial Work’ (PFAW) and develop clear operating procedures before undertaking flights for commercial purposes. “Remote pilots are then able to fly underneath your permission” adds Julian.

You can find out more about the rules and where you stand in the UK from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Episode 3 of D-Construct was filmed at London’s SkyTech UAV Conference and Exhibition in January 2016. Look for details of future events on their Twitter feed: @SkyTechEvent

We’d like to say thanks to Leica Geosystems UK and Aibotix for taking part in this episode and for the rather awesome aerial footage.

D-Construct is produced by The B1M in association with Basestone. The production team includes: Alex Siljanovski, Simon McCabe, Laura Davies, Priya Joshi, Tom Payne and Fred Mills. Catch-up on earlier episodes here.

Epsiode 3 of D-Construct was filmed at SkyTech 2016.

Title imagery by Thomas Leth-Olsen. We welcome you sharing our content to inspire others, but please be nice and play by our rules.

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