Today’s guest post is brought to you by Yunhong Liu, the founder of We Talk UAV, a new drone community and news site launching later this year.
Drones are increasing in complexity and innovation, and as a result, their uses are becoming more diverse. This year, construction companies began putting the technology to the test. As part of a trillion-dollar-per-year industry, builders are always looking for new ways to boost production. Fortunately, drone manufacturers are eager to get in on the action. Here are some ways drones will fit into the construction industry:
One of the most significant impacts drones will have on construction is lowering costs, which is good news for builders. Commercial drones are expected to replace more than 100-billion dollars’ worth of labor. Services, like surveying and inspections, that would normally require 3rd-party contractors and additional manpower can now be performed by sophisticated drones. Also, hefty sums that would have been reserved for helicopter pilots, usually thousands of dollars, can be conserved or directed into other areas of the construction project. For major jobs, cutting costs can help workers operate more efficiently by enabling companies to increase manpower.
Site managers have to ensure that every inch of the building, above and below ground, is up to code. Obviously, structural problems will delay completion of the project, but drainage systems and soil properties are also a major concern. Helicopters have been useful, in the past but not as efficient as most builders would prefer, and the distance pilots are forced to maintain between themselves and buildings has presented complications. Using specialized imaging and software, drones have the capability to quickly produce high-quality thermal images and 3-D models that can help inspectors evaluate structures.
Drones are useful for more than just making sure the job is performed properly. They are becoming an asset throughout entire construction projects. That includes evaluating the property for potential issues before a single concrete block is laid. Vasts amounts of time and labor have been, in previous years, spent analyzing soil and collecting measurements, but drones armed with smart sensors are already making noticeable improvements. Using Bluetooth or RFID sensors, information from drones can be sent directly through the cloud to users on the ground.
It’s no secret that construction jobs are considered to be among the most dangerous, especially for those who work on commercial projects. Building inspectors have to worry about getting up to heights several feet (sometimes hundreds of feet) above the ground, but they also have to investigate hard to reach places and those with potential chemical hazards. Drones are small and agile enough to fly into narrow, hazardous spaces in order to capture images and footage for use during inspections. They are already heavily involved in construction projects and are expected to become more prevalent within the coming years.
Despite regulations and critics, drones seem to be doing more good than harm, at least as far as builders are concerned. They are faster, safer, and cheaper, overall a smart investment. You can love or hate them, but drones are no longer limited to science fiction. They are rapidly becoming a reality for millions of people all over the world.