- Jan 7, 2020
Once considered emerging technology, the use of drones to track progress and capture important building data has now become routine on our projects. With a multitude of licensed and insured in-house drone pilots, we’re able to monitor progression, improve quality and increase safety on our job sites in timeframes once unimaginable.
Risk Mitigation Through Drone Imagery
Our Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) departments conduct drone flights as a valuable risk mitigation measure for our project teams. As the drone hoovers and flies over a project site, it automatically captures images at regular intervals; one drone can capture photographs of an area of 10 acres in approximately 20 minutes. The photographs are then used to create 3D point-cloud and orthographic images used to verify foundation layouts, anchor bolt locations, and plumbing and electrical stub-up locations.
Images taken from the drone are processed through Pix4D photogrammetry software. This program compares the photos of objects at various perspectives to calculate the 3D geometry. Although these images do not replace licensed survey verification of as-built conditions, it serves as a useful check for any gross misplacement of foundation elements or underground utilities. This is an invaluable risk mitigation measure; the earlier mistakes are realized, the less costly they are to correct.
Our VDC team in Connecticut conducted a drone flight to verify existing exterior wall and window conditions for a 15-story high-rise building renovation located on a bustling, occupied school campus. Due to the height of the building and the proximity of neighboring structures, the only way to perform this visual inspection was from the air. The size of the drone (roughly one cubic foot) allowed it to maneuver with ease between the closely spaced buildings. Had we not utilized drone technology, the alternative, and traditional, method would have been for our project team to employ a system in similarity to window-washing scaffolding. This would have not only been costly for a building this size, but also an extreme safety risk. The drone allowed us to confirm the conditions of the exterior masonry, windows and louvers, and carry the appropriate renovation budget for our client.