Drones in Construction

William Adams, Tara Brooks, John Meneely, Rori Millar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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Drones are rapidly becoming widely adopted within the construction industry with a 58% annual growth rate in use. Benefits arise due to the unique perspective achieved through the data captured. These include improved documentation, operations, and productivity gains. Drone technology can be implemented to monitor progress, aid in health and safety inspections and assist quality assurance through specialist thermal imaging cameras. Construction companies can benefit from Photogrammetry outputs such as orthomosaic drawings, topography surveys, and 3D model generation. A case study in the development of a drone programme by a building contractor found that developing an in-house team allowed more scalability and flexibility to carry out drone flights to meet the needs of specific projects. A qualitative review found that there are time savings achieved on a project through drone data captured, however this is difficult to accurately quantify. Photogrammetry can increase the benefit of drone outputs in construction, for instance through volume calculations, validation of work to date, and communication to the project team through image annotation. Drone data is a tool that can be used to aid in the management of a construction project but does not replace the need for human interpretation. Looking to the future, drones can become more integral to the construction project through hardware development by adding attachments to the drone for specific tasks such an exoskeleton for internal building inspections or stakes for setting out coordinates. Software development will play a major role in construction drone use with the implementation of 5G to autonomise and speed up the drone data transfer and enable integration with other platforms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the CiTA BIM gathering 2021
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


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