Drones, or UAVs, are unmanned aerial vehicles that can navigate autonomously, without human control or beyond line of sight. Drones are differentiated by their ability to travel to places that are out of human reach or are too expensive or risky to send people. Drone technology has revolutionized everything from commerce to military operations to real estate, and thanks to the influx of attention and investment in construction technology, is poised to disrupt the way construction companies survey, document and complete their projects as well. Here are some of the ways drones are impacting construction projects before, during, and after ground break:

Drone Surveying

Drones are small, light, and capable, and they can take ultra-high-resolution photos that replace current costly and time-consuming site surveying, inspection, or hazard analysis. Since they can go places where people cannot, they are able to capture a more robust, safe, and cost-effective picture of site hazards and operations. As drone technology evolves and improves, they are also increasingly able to resolve those issues and conduct some of the more hazardous site tasks.

Monitoring Site Progress

Drones are some of the best and most accurate technology when it comes to job site monitoring. Whether it relates to keeping an eye on employees or ensuring the safety of expensive equipment, drones make it easy to monitor a site. Multiple drones even allow for live streams of the site, which can be viewed from anywhere, at any point in time. , which means it could be viewed from anywhere. Such visual document of a worksite not only helps construction crews stay on track with schedules and capture milestones, but the footage can be shared with clients and key stakeholders who want accurate, real-time updates on their projects.

Analysis

Drone technology has also proved beneficial  when it comes to building information modelling, or BIM, which is a digital representation of a physical and functional characters of a facility or building.  Komatsu, a technology company in Japan, for example,  has paired up with Skycatch, a drone service provider based in Southern California, on “Smart Construction.” This project leverages drone footage to create 3D renderings of the jobsite. Drones also enable meaningful and helpful comparisons between BIM designs and the actual construction on-site. Since this IoT-enabled technology can be updated in real-time, it is even possible to analyze changes to the jobsite  on a minute-by-minute basis.

Planning

Drones can survey and collect birds-eye site information that would otherwise be unavailable and that allows contractors to make real-time, more informed building decisions. decisions about insulating homes and buildings in hopes of lowering energy consumption – and energy bills – in the future. Siemens, for example, has been using drones  at their Aspern Vienna Urban Lakeside project in Austria – one of the largest in Europe -with thermal gauges that can determine the amount of energy being lost at the site. This information is then being leveraged to improve building and home insulation in hopes of lowering energy consumption – and energy bills – once the project is turned over.
 
Though drones cannot replace an experienced, well-trained crew, they are benefiting construction projects – and streamlining processes – in many ways. While construction has a reputation for being slow to adopt technology,  their adoption of drone technology  is a step in the right direction and is being usedto improve productivity, reduce overhead cost, and even increase revenue.