While design has long been digital, the physical world has not. Now drone imagery can digitize the physical world and provide builders with an accurate and up-to-date representation of a project.
The hardware and software is advancing as well. Today, aircrafts have the ability to fly autonomously, with the help of an embedded program. Drones have new sensing capabilities, smart cameras, and new interfaces. Hybrid drones, those that possess the capabilities of both rotary and fixed wings, are also seeing some new traction.
All of this can enable greater productivity and insight into projects for workers. Drones can help with risk mitigation, resource planning, research and excavation, urban planning, and more.
“Put simply, new technologies, including drones and other robotic tools, have quickly become just another tool on the jobsite — and that’s exactly how it should be,” says Hugh McFall of 3DR.
Make the Most of Drone Technology
He sees many construction professionals flying drones multiple times a week and using the data — the high-resolution maps and 3D models — as a team to plan the day’s work, identify issues that need to be resolved, share progress updates to their clients, and much more.
The more people on a project who have access to the data, the more they will come up with value-added uses for it.
“The most successful teams have enabled their uses and use cases to develop organically by getting the entire project into the platforms, says Patrick Stuart of Skycatch.
Perhaps the next best step for those considering drones on the jobsite is to create a checklist of steps to ensure positive implementation of the technology initially — and ongoing success for the long run.
- First, create a corporate or project budget. Stuart suggests dedicating resources specifically to adopting new technology. This includes both people and money.
- Next, create a mission and set goals. Consider having the top level of your organization create the objectives and focus on using the technology to directly impact the future of your business, he adds. This can include things like making bids more competitive, reducing costs, or improving safety. Once this is decided at a company-wide level, it will ultimately trickle down.
- Pick a champion. This person will need to lead adopting new technologies and expanding them across project teams, says McFall. This should be supported by management to ensure that teams actively seek out and implement new solutions, adds Stuart.
- Then, implement a preflight checklist for your drone pilots to follow. This can include everything from checking the equipment prior to flight to what needs to be done afterwards. This will help them minimize risk, improve documentation, and ensure they are flying safely.
- For some, the next step is to pick a trial project. This will enable a company to check against objectives and make adjustments as necessary until the implementation of technology is successfully achieved.
- Then, the final step is to expand to other projects, but using the first as a golden example to ultimately train and establish corporate best practices.