This is a guest blog by Nick Heim, P.E.
In recent years, the utilization of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) has emerged as a very useful technology with significant implications in AEC.
Today, I would like to summarize some of our top episodes from the AECTECH podcast, all of which relate to the use of drones in AEC.
If you find these summaries interesting, check out the full-length episodes!
- The accessibility of off-the-shelf drones like the Phantom 3, Phantom 4, and Mavic Pro in 2017-2018, marked a turning point in their usage for data collection.
- Technical challenges and software limitations initially hindered profitability and scalability.
- The industry swiftly adapted, seeing significant improvements in both fieldwork and post-processing, leading to scalable solutions.
- The price point became a critical factor, enabling cost-effective solutions for the AEC industry.
- AEC professionals’ familiarity with geospatial data and expertise in handling large data volumes made drones a natural fit for data collection.
- The adoption of scalable drone methodologies allows entry into the world of data collection.
- Some aspects, like photogrammetry for detailed inspections, require expertise and specific training.
- Drone pilot licenses (Part 107) became a requirement for legal drone operation for commercial purposes.
- Additional training and skills development, such as mission planning and photogrammetry, are crucial.
- In-house investment in training and drones is a cost-effective, long-term solution.
- Comprehensive training programs and cost-effective equipment are readily available.
AECTECH 020: How Using Drones in Construction Are a Cost-Effective Way to Improve Safety and Efficiency
- Drones offer a versatile set of tools for data capture, utilizing various sensors for photography, thermography, LIDAR, and more.
- Their applications in construction projects are wide-ranging, from capturing marketing visuals to enhancing liability control.
- Drones revolutionize data management by packaging vast amounts of construction data into meaningful 3D models.
- These models enable efficient progress tracking and facilitate communication between stakeholders.
- Obtaining a drone pilot’s license (Part 107) is essential for commercial drone operation.
- The license demonstrates regulatory compliance but doesn’t assess flying proficiency.
- Additional training and skills development, such as mission planning and thermography, are recommended.
- Subcontracting drone data services is an option, but in-house investment in training and drones can be cost-effective for long-term use.
- Drones, coupled with artificial intelligence (AI), are transforming façade inspection.
- The inspection industry is growing due to aging infrastructure, climate change, and changing building methodologies.
- Drones provide a more comprehensive and cost-effective solution for façade inspection.
- They offer a bird’s-eye view of the façade, complemented by human inspectors’ physical inspections.
- AI automates the analysis of photos and videos taken by drones, enhancing inspection efficiency and accuracy.
- Drones and AI are not replacements for human engineers, but rather tools to support and augment their work.
- The combination of drones and AI in façade inspection introduces new challenges, such as data management and compliance with regulations.
- Visualization tools, like photogrammetry and orthomosaics, help manage the overwhelming amount of data generated by these inspections.
- The future of drones and data collection in the AEC industry holds immense potential, but caution is necessary.
- Geopolitical factors can impact the industry’s growth, and reliable supply chains are crucial for specialized drone components.
- Embracing drones and AI enhances efficiency and productivity, enabling us to focus on more complex tasks that truly add value to our projects.
About the Author Nick Heim, P.E.
Nick Heim, P.E., is a civil engineer with six years of experience in the repair and restoration of existing structures. Nick is also the host of the AEC Engineering and Technology Podcast (“AECTECH”) and brings valuable insights and expertise to listeners worldwide.
Nick’s interests lie at the intersection between the built world and technology, and he can be found looking for the ever-changing answer to the question, “How can we do this better?” He can be found on LinkedIn, producing content about use of technologies in his Civil Engineering career and small business.
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share about the applications of drones in AEC.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success