Drones continue to gain ground – or, in this case, air – in construction applications. They have transitioned from a primarily marketing-based role when they first emerged on the commercial scene to performing critical jobsite functions that range from site surveying as part of the estimating and project planning process, to critical inspections of difficult to access areas of a site, to even monitoring and managing material stockpile inventories. And it appears their role could expand even further if the Biden administration’s proposed infrastructure funding legislation, or a variation of it, is eventually passed.
As pointed out in “The role for drones in Biden’s infrastructure plan” by Greg Nichols, featured on ZDNet.com (May 20, 2021), sweeping investment in U.S. roads and bridges, the electric grid, broadband, manufacturing, etc., will require resources to monitor and maintain this investment to ensure its long-term performance. “There is currently no way that existing crews can inspect all this infrastructure effectively, and if we cannot inspect the infrastructure reliably, we cannot reasonably expect to spend repair dollars,” Nichols writes.
He sees drones as a essential part of the solution. “To truly modernize and future proof America's infrastructure, it's a safe bet that drones should play a key role enabling quick inspections and spotting developing issues prior to them debilitating an electric grid or roadway,” he asserts.
Expanded use of drones for inspection purposes could propel an already growing industry further forward. Nichols cites a Goldman Sachs forecast indicating a total drone market size worth $100 billion in 2020, driven by increasing demand from the commercial and government sectors. Nichols believes the industry is “on the precipice of breaking into the mainstream and the Biden infrastructure plan could be the tipping point.” He adds that the advent of autonomous drones will enable even more missions to be completed per year, helping to keep infrastructure in good working condition.
Admittedly, there are hurdles that would need to be overcome. You can read more about both the challenges and opportunities in the use of drones for infrastructure inspection in Nichols’ Q&A discussion with Reese Mozer, cofounder and CEO of American Robotics.
You can also find insights on drone use in construction in the articles below or by clicking here:
- How Drone-based Site Intelligence Maximizes a Contractor's Grading Efficiency and Profits
- Drone Service Boosts ANDRES Project Completion, Teamwork and Quality Control
- Gilbane Adding Drone Pilots to Boost Project Safety, Quality
- Bechtel Construction Adds Drones to its Fleet
- 5 Ways Drones Bring Value on Construction and Engineering Projects