- General Electric and German drone manufacturer Microdrones have announced a worldwide licensing agreement to bring GE's industrial drone line to market.
- The agreement, which represents GE's first step into the unmanned aerial vehicle sector, will accelerate Microdrones' deployment of survey equipment for the creation of digital twins, digital terrain models and maps.
- The industrial drone line will be manufactured at Microdrones' Siegen, Germany, facility and sold and supported across the world, according to a press release.
The pandemic elevated the need for accurately capturing jobsite progress, as restrictions limited the number of people allowed on site at once, and the use of drones for projects doesn't seem to be slowing down. The number of users and drone flights nearly doubled in Q2 2021 when compared to that same period the year before, according to a study released by DroneDeploy.
Agriculture and energy seem to make up most of the increases in drone usage, but the construction sector also saw growth. The industry saw a 16% quarterly increase in flights and a 5% increase in users, according to the report.
Though UAV use is growing, using drones for data and image capture has been relatively common practice for major contractors for several years. Contractors such as PCL and Windover use unmanned aerial vehicles to take images or scans of jobsites which can then be used to compare BIM models to the truth of the as-built site.
Drones could also help accelerate the time period between construction phases, as inspections could increasingly take place virtually or via drone footage.
In addition to the new partnership, GE has invested in Microdrones' parent company, mdGroup, and a representative from GE has joined the mdGroup board of directors in an observer role, according to the announcement.
Founded in 2005, Microdrones emerged from a collaboration between a German drone inventor and a North American software developer. The company markets its quadcopter drones with LiDAR technology for image capturing in industries such as construction.