Shutterstock/ Dmitry Kalinovsky
Drones are unpiloted aircrafts, usually operated by remote control. They are also called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and can be used both on Earth or in space. However, they are regulated, and drones weighing more than 4.4 lbs and that can travel more than 120 meters will need a Federal Aviation Administration permit. This delays their integration into certain areas for commercial use.
Where are Drones Commonly Used?
Drones are often used in the military as they eliminate the risk to life in combat zones. In agriculture, drones can be used to distribute fertilizer or assessing the health of large quantities of crops that would otherwise take a long time to examine.
Additionally, there are opportunities for drones to be used in goods delivery, reducing costs for companies offering home delivery and door-to-door services. Drones have also found use in everyday life, with people using drones for photography, recreation and surveillance.
Applications of Drones in the Building Industry
According to one report, global spending on drones will reach $100 billion by 2020, and $11.2 billion of that sum will come from the construction industry alone. It is highly likely that application of drones on construction sites could become commonplace, as there are many attractive benefits that drones bring to construction.
Developers can survey sites more easily and sites in areas that are hard to reach can be more easily surveyed or examined. They can also reduce the amount of human error made when surveying land. While drones for these purposes can save time, there are also important health and safety benefits as well.
Surveyors or builders can inspect land in hard to reach areas without going there themselves, decreasing the risk of on-site accidents or injuries. Although helicopters can be used to gather the same amount of information as a drone, the costs incurred when using drones is substantially lower.
Additionally, site managers can survey a build’s progress, aiding them to better direct resources and keep projects running to schedule. It also means that sites can be viewed without having to actually go to the site in person, meaning managers or other construction personnel can oversee a build using footage from drones from anywhere in the world.
Management can also keep tabs on employees, not only ensuring workers are keeping to schedule, but they are working to protocols and carrying out work safely.
Safety and Security
Drones can also be used to increase security at construction sites. This includes reducing the risk of theft or vandalism, and ensuring employees are working in safe environments. Whether after accidents, during construction or due to natural disasters, drones can be used to assess damage in emergency situations, and to help plan and administer post-disaster relief.
The transportation of goods is also an area in which drones are useful tools to reduce costs and working hours, meaning materials can be transported to or across sites extremely quickly. An added advantage in this particular area is that drones do not have to adhere to traffic regulations, cutting down transportation time and costs.
Interestingly, marketing for construction companies is another area in which drones are proving useful. Documenting the progress a site is making over time or demonstrating the processes with which a building is being constructed can be very useful for generating interest and possible future business.
Limitations and Regulations
Although their efficacy covers a wide range of tasks and industries, the development of drones for commercial and personal use has moved at a much faster pace than that of the regulations and legislation defining their proper use. As such, full integration into construction industries has been slowed.
The commercial use of drones is limited by regulations that stop drones being flown near people or buildings, and to prevent interference with aircraft flight paths, drones are not allowed to be flown higher than 120 meters. Drones must also be visible to the pilot at all times while being flown.
Although beneficial in terms of safety, drones cannot be flown by people without a remote pilot certificate, which further restricts those who can use them for construction purposes.
Drones have found use in a number of different industries, including construction, agriculture, insurance, real estate, mining and clean energy, and even the arts. While they are regulated and their full integration into the building industry has been slowed as a result, there are a number of lucrative advantages they bring to construction sites.
From cutting costs to ensuring safety and enabling surveillance, and from creating interesting marketing material and increasing the accuracy of site evaluations, drones are proving a versatile tool outside of their military origins.