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Construction drones help crews work faster, safer, and at a lower cost. Whether you’re an architect who wants to verify your vision, a site foreman keeping an eye on all your crew members, or a client monitoring the progress of your new headquarters, drones provide the images, data, and consistency you need to construct better, faster, and for less money. We’ll show you a few killer applications for drones in construction and highlight some of the best construction drone models available for each task.
When you’re starting to build on a particular site, you’ll need to know the exact dimensions of existing features and topography to take the biggest advantage of computerized planning and BIM (building information modeling) systems. Construction drones can take accurate measurements using both visible light cameras and other types of sensors, generating 3D maps and taking precise distance measurements that can be analyzed back in the trailer.
For your first experience in surveying a site, we recommend starting with a rugged but easy-to-use construction drone such as the Mavic 2 Zoom. The Phantom 4 Pro can create both straight down 2D surveys and, using a variety of intelligent flight planning apps, make a second pass at an angle so that you can automatically assemble an accurate 3D model. All of these capabilities are possible with an easy-to-fly drone that costs just a little more than a toy!
More advanced users will want to upgrade to lidar-equipped drone such as the DJI Matrice M600 Pro with the Geo-MMS VLP-16 lidar system. Lidar modules use thousands of pulsed laser beams to precisely measure objects and generate millions of points of data. These 3-D point clouds can be modeled as a solid 3D object, yielding accurate depictions of even the most complex environments.
Feeding the data captured by a drone into construction planning software and overlaying with proposed building drawings will instantly show any potential mismatches between terrain, existing structures, and even vegetation. You’ll instantly know the true costs of preparing your site for groundbreaking and can make better decisions about how to best utilize the area where you’ll build.
On larger sites that require extensive ground work, like highways, railroads, bridges or parking lots, you’ll need a drone that can fly further and longer. The Quantum Systems Trinity takes off and lands vertically, but then flies like a fixed-wing airplane for missions of up to 90 minutes on a single charge.