360° cameras on a drone and tripod and a safety helmet with the HoloBuilder emblem on a platform in front of an active jobsite

Automated Drone Systems: Revolutionizing the AECO Industry

Feb 8, 2023 | Article, Construction, Progress Tracking

Learn how drone automation and UAVs are transforming the construction industry and how you can take advantage of them for your jobsite documentation with HoloBuilder.

Drones, otherwise known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), in the construction industry have been skyrocketing for years and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. 63% of contractors are currently using automated drones on their projects. With construction projects growing more complex, the demand for these futuristic devices as on-site documentation tools will only continue to grow.

There are many benefits of adopting UAVs on construction sites as they potentially improve the entire project life cycle – optimizing the process from inception to project closeout.

With drone photo and video captures, teams can track building progress and gain real-time updates from an aerial vantage point where data collection is traditionally a challenge. Hence, they serve as an important tool for on-site safety and remote monitoring, with the ability to detect potential problems faster in remote or hard-to-reach locations.

How Automated Drones Are Used On-Site for Construction Projects

Drones can be a huge boost for on-site productivity, allowing your team to collect aerial data much faster and more accurately through autonomous capture than would be possible on foot. Here are four ways they can be used to simplify your next construction project.

Mapping and Surveying

With a drone, surveying and mapping can be carried out topographically with the same quality as the highly accurate measurements collected by traditional methods, but within a fraction of the time. This substantially reduces the cost of a site survey and minimizes the workload of specialists in the field.

Volumetric Measurements

By using drones for volumetric measurements to accurately estimate cut-fill volumes such as in quarries and mines, safety, speed and cost-effectiveness can be increased in construction and engineering projects.

With the precision aerial volumetric measurement that drones provide, teams can even accurately estimate the amount of material added to or removed from a site over time to assist in auditing for contractor invoices involved in delivery, removal, transport and re-use of materials.

Surveillance & Site Security

On-site surveillance can be extremely costly with the need to hire personnel to be at the site around the clock. To reduce the costs of hiring security guards for every inch of your jobsite, drones can be used to detect irregularities and unusual motion on-site without the need for staff to be on guard for 24-hour shifts.

While traditional surveillance cameras are an alternative, the fact that devices are fixed and immobile means that more of them are needed to detect risks on-site and are limited in what they capture to a certain range or angle. Drones are increasingly being used as the better surveillance option, moving away from the static, fixed nature of traditional security systems.

Using drone robotics, autonomous inspection missions can be carried out more quickly, safely and detect issues much earlier to prevent future accidents on-site.

Construction Site Monitoring

Drones can optimize the construction project life cycle by enabling seamless progress monitoring. By allowing construction progress monitoring to stay remote, the size of teams on-site can be reduced, which can result in significant cost-savings.

On top of that, by providing aerial vantage points and reaching areas which are difficult or expensive to access for humans, drones can reduce on-site risks and accidents can be mitigated.

How to Leverage Autonomous Drone Footage On-Site for Construction Progress Management

There are various ways to bring your construction documentation to the next level by adding in drone footage to your HoloBuilder projects.

360° photo captures

Capture the site directly within the HoloBuilder JobWalk app

If you attach one of the compatible 360° cameras to the drone and keep it in range for the WiFi connection of the camera to the mobile device, you can use the drone instead of a tripod to capture the 360° photos with the JobWalk app and pin the photos to your floor plans.

Upload manually

Capture the 360° photos with the drone’s camera (if the photos can be retrieved in one of the supported formats) and upload them manually to the projects via the Web Editor.

2D photo captures (through manual upload on the web)

2D photo tied to a location on the floor plan

Capture the photos with the drone’s camera, create location markers for the positions on the floor plans in the Web Editor, and upload them manually to your projects via the 2D Photos gallery. You can also add 2D photos to an existing waypoint.

2D photo tied to a 360° photo

Capture the photos with the drone’s camera and upload them as a 2D photo action object inside the existing 360° photos.

360° videos

360° videos cannot be uploaded directly to HoloBuilder. You need to upload the 360° video to a video hosting platform that supports 360° videos like YouTube or Vimeo (or any similar platform supporting 360° videos). Then, add the direct link inside the 360° photo in HoloBuilder using the link action object.

2D videos

As a video inside a 360° photo

You can also upload videos directly to HoloBuilder, similar to 2D photos, inside a 360° photo. Add the 2D video as a video action object to a specific 360° photo to be viewed directly within HoloBuilder.

As a link to a video platform

Alternatively, upload the 2D video to a video hosting platform like YouTube or Vimeo. Next, add the direct link inside the 360° photo via the link action object in HoloBuilder to play the video.

GPS Coordinates

As a paid add-on, you can use GPS-enabled Floor Plans in combination with GPS-based drone image data to simply drag and drop a drone-captured photo onto a sheet. It will then be positioned according to the GPS coordinates stored in the photo’s metadata.

Ready to learn more about the HoloBuilder JobWalk app and how it can simplify your next project’s workflows?

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