Whether driven by coronavirus-related restrictions limiting the number of people allowed onsite at a time or simply a lack of a skilled workforce, contractors continue to need tech solutions to bridge gaps in data gathering and perform time-consuming tasks.
One such technology is now commonly found overhead on many jobsites. Contractors are turning to construction drones to solve problems and save time. Drones have been used to capture image-based, as-built data on buildings; conduct surveys and inspections; and even perform quick, easy tasks on-site.
Here, Construction Dive highlights six construction drones and drone software solutions that offer possible solutions for contractors, as well as indicate where the technology is heading in its capabilities.
DJI Enterprise markets its drones to the construction industry, as well as agriculture and oil and gas. The company claims its flying machines add to contractor awareness of on-site progress, and help document a project over the course of years, and even multiple owners.
Combining the use of drones with DJI’s image stitching, which overlays several 2D images to create a larger picture, and 3D modeling software allows for contractors to access as-built models of projects, a common practice for drone mapping.
DJI markets three packages for contractors:
- A site surveying solution for 3D and 2D mapping, utilizing the image stitching software.
- A high-precision solution with global navigation satellite systems software (GNSS) for centimeter-precise measurements.
- A thermal inspection solution for discovering electrical or water damage inside a building or on-site.
ABJ drones target inspections of buildings, bridges, roadways, railroads, roofs, cell towers, cooling towers and oil and gas infrastructure. Their thermographic imaging is designed to discover heat signatures indicating energy leaks or waste much faster than normal inspection would, the firm claims. Classic 3D and 2D mapping as well as topographic maps can be captured and made with ABJ drones.
The company also offers drone training for all levels of pilots.
vHive is another drone solution that aids with digital mapping and 3D modeling of a jobsite, as well as facade inspection. After determining the data desired, contractors can use vHive to autonomously survey the site and create a digital twin. The up-to-date data can be made available quickly to address any issues on-site.
vHive also can monitor building facades to ensure scaffolding is safe for workers, and has the capability to inspect and analyze cranes, rather than having a human perform the inspection.
The Propeller Platform’s aerial image capturing helps contractors create up-to-date data for decision-making in one location. A Propeller drone is unique in its ability to track specific materials on-site, according to the firm, and create a paper trail when they’ve been moved to different locations, and by whom.
The platform has been used by Hensel Phelps and Sukut Construction LLC.
Ware is an autonomous drone used for mapping and reporting on warehouse inventory. With a landing dock inside the warehouse, the drone autonomously flies around the space, taking pictures of the inventory. Once the drone returns to the dock, it uploads imagery and begins compiling a report.
Ware constructs a 3D model of the warehouse and its inventory and provides managers with constant, up-to-date information. While the Ware drone doesn’t have a direct construction application, the technology is something that contractors could find value in.
The Dragonfly visual positioning system is a software solution Accuware says can be applied to drones, robots and automated guided vehicles. Using onboard cameras, Dragonfly can perform precise 3D location of objects in remote areas where GPS is not available. When GPS doesn’t work, especially indoors, Dragonfly’s simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) technology does.
The software also helps with real time 3D navigation and map sharing, and no internet connection is required for it to work.