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Using Drone Technology to Inspect Building Facades, Roofs, & Pavement

July 27, 2016

The Computer Technology Association expects drone purchases to hit one million units during 2016, a 145% increase from last year.

Aside from hobbyists, drones have major commercial applications. An area of specific interest is how this technology can help those in the engineering field. Often, engineers are challenged with inspecting tall or structurally deficient buildings. Google Earth doesn’t provide the detail that drones with cameras can show, and some situations are not safe or even possible for humans to perform a physical investigation (think high-rise buildings, towers, or roofs with incredibly steep slopes). Telescopic man lifts and scaffolding setups can be very costly and even require the building owner to shut down their business during the setup. Inspections from hanging scaffold rigs limit what can be seen. This is where drone technology comes into play.

 

As new applications expand daily for commercial drones — also called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — engineering managers are considering ways drones might be able to expand the reach and capabilities of their departments and technicians.

Drones are able to quickly elevate and fly to the highest edges of a building in a matter of seconds. The ability to view these heights from the safety of the ground is a huge plus. You can have your drone record and store a video of a particular flight pattern. As long as you automate the pattern or the process, you can repeat the flight. This will give you side-by-side results over a period of time. This can be very useful in monitoring the behavior of a facade.

 

Most drones are controlled by simply utilizing a smart phone. The images and videos are saved on a memory card in the drone and can easily be transferred to a tablet or laptop. Video segments can be shared with the building owner, fellow engineers, and facility management to help interpret the structural condition of the building. Knowing the full extent of the deterioration, engineers can more accurately draw up their plans and associated restoration costs can be calculated more precisely.

 

StructureTec has the ability to bring this technology to our clients as part of our initial site assessment. Setting up a swing stage to inspect an envelope on a 20-story building is no small matter. Using a drone could save hours of setup and inspection time, while reducing the overall expense budget for the assessment.

 

With all pun intended, the sky is the limit for this new technology. There are many foreseeable applications for the use of drones in executing inspections. And, at this point, we are only scratching the surface.

Our drones were able to scan this high-rise building facade for deficiencies

Shown is a high-quality image captured by our drone camera

Our drones were able to safely capture video/images of this roof

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