There are a lot more toys for the designer today, one of those tools is the drone, some see it as a nuisance, others regard it as a godsend.
The truth, at least the truth I experienced, is getting to a site for the first time and launching that drone allows you to immediately see the bigger picture, the landscape, surrounding buildings, and how your client’s idea fits into the building site, or you can, like me use it to convince your clients that it’s a horrible idea thus avoiding revision after revision after revision after… you get the picture, drones have been around for quite a while now and only had one purpose, and that was recreation, today its different, drone applications are increasing each year, the tool you only could use to take pictures can now be a powerhouse in Architecture Engineering and Construction,
I am not talking about erecting buildings yet, which might be a possibility in the not so distant future, but in other ways, for example, gathering site data, gathering views to optimize your design, or inspecting hazardous spaces that otherwise would be dangerous for people, the most common use case of drones at the moment is taking pictures of your site before during and after construction, its more a marketing tool for many Architects, what I am mostly interested in is the use of drones to enhance my workflow, for example, 3d mapping and surveying projects, something that used to be a complex procedure in the past, a procedure that required a lot of manpower and hours, and being able to use that data to come up with a final design, there’s a few companies like Flywheel AEC, sensefly, DroneDeploy and Autodesk that makes working with drones a walk in the park, some will give you the tools to turn your data into usable information other provides the manpower so you don’t have to lift a finger.
Drone technology is finally at the point where it is commercially viable in AEC, below are possibilities and ways drones are used or can be used to enhance Architecture and Construction.
Marketing is where the old school power of the drone sticks out, high rise buildings mean high elevation images, a cherrypicker will not help you there, 360-degree immersive images and videos are what’s going to make your promotions stand out, and this doesn’t have to only be after the project, you can use the 3d mapped Data, add the 3D model of your building to the site and create a beautiful render, this alone can put you ahead of the rest because you now have an accurate photoreal presentation for would-be investors.
2. Building Site Surveys and 3d mapping
Fewer ground control points equal less time spent on surveying the site, drones make it easy for a surveyor to map a site accurately in no time at all, the data itself is comprehensive, making it ideal for detailed 3d mapping, the speed at which drone data can be processed is increasing every month, especially now that companies like Autodesk have joined the club, one such company that allows you to upload your data online and process it is Hoverscape, Hoverscape gives you high-quality data that you can use to calculate surface area, horizontal area, and volume, the data can be inserted into AutoCAD, Revit or any other Bim application.
3. Progress Reports and Jobsite progress monitoring
Construction often involves different parties, and not all of them are going to on-site every day or need to be on-site every day, progress reports gives them an idea of how far the project is, drones can make that process less time consuming, you basically can now have a single drone taking both images and video and present it with a progress report.
4. Site Logistics
Drones can help with site logistics from the design stage and throughout the construction, I used to use google earth to make a logistics plan but found that the data is always outdated, things change fast and you need to know how the site and surrounding areas look like now to have an accurate representation, that’s where drones come in, a quick fly around and you have what you need to get up and running with your logistic plan, another way is during construction itself, things never go a 100% as planned, and that’s when you need real updates to make quick changes to your logistics.
Safety is one of the most important if not the most importing things on a construction site human life cannot be replaced but a drone can, using your drone to enter buildings and places that are dangerous for people can make life easy not only for you but your company, you can use a drone to inspect roofs and building that need renovation or for real-time inspection of a finalized building without having to use scaffolding.
The number of uses will undoubtedly increase over time, might even be faster with Moore’s law going from a couple of years to just a few months, I know many of you are still skeptical on drone use but imaging being able to calculate stockpile volume and material types for inventory or length, width and elevation for roads and structures, all in lesser time than you normally would,
Your competition is probably using the technology don’t be left behind