Drones: The Future of Construction

Drones: The Future of Construction

March 13, 2020


Drones: The Future of Construction


Drones may sound like either a popular toy or a futuristic contraption, but the reality is that they’re integral tools in a number of industries. Construction is one of the biggest industries that rely on drones for a number of different processes. Drones are particularly suited to the construction industry thanks to their ability to provide real-time, accurate visual data of construction sites. Drones are already being used for a number of construction projects, and their use is only going to increase as technology becomes more advanced.

DJI creates a number of drones that are beneficial for use in construction, including their Matrice 210 RTK, Phantom 4 RTK, and Mavic 2 Enterprise Series. With incredibly high quality images and centimeter-level accuracy, these drones can do anything from survey and map a site to aid in surveillance and security. We’ll go over the biggest benefits of using drones for construction, the top three DJI drones suited for the task, and the common applications for using drones in construction.



Benefits Of Using Drones For Construction

Drones are a cost-effective method for measuring and tracking construction projects. The use of drones provides real-time and accurate aerial visual data to increase efficiency and cut costs. Here are some of the benefits of using drones for construction:

Pre-Planning

Drones can collect visual data of a construction site to help construction companies plan before they begin construction. Visual data is a huge part of planning a construction project, as construction sites can often be large areas with many obscured and difficult to get to places. While a project manager walking the site on foot can collect data manually, a drone can quickly and easily take aerial shots in a fraction of the time.

Drones can show things like possible drainage spots and other factors that will help determine where to build and where to dig. They can also capture data to help designers and architects get a sense of what the completed building will look like both practically and aesthetically. This is a vital part of the planning process and can help avoid costly mistakes.

 


Improving Safety

Construction can be a dangerous business, especially when workers are forced to go into dangerous situations to collect data or survey parts of the site. Drones can collect visual data from a safe distance, allowing you to complete inspections without needing to be in harm’s way. Instead of needing to lower workers into a space using ropes, a drone can be used to take pictures.

The use of drones in maintaining perimeter security helps to ensure that civilians don’t accidentally wander onsite and injure themselves. They can also help you keep abreast of any changing conditions that impact the safety of the site.


Improving Efficiency

By regularly tracking data and creating maps of the site with the visual data collected by drones, project managers can avoid delays and keep from going over budget. By reducing the amount of manpower needed to manually inspect and survey the site, drones save construction companies a considerable amount of time and money.

 

Monitoring Productivity

With the aerial data that drones provide, project managers can keep an eye on their crew to ensure that the job is getting done according to schedule. Drones can also help project managers track their equipment to ensure that nothing goes missing or gets misplaced. If there’s a need to review past information from the site, drones will store their data to be reviewed later in the event that a report needs to be filed.



DJI Drones For Construction

Matrice 210 RTK

DJI has three main enterprise drones suited for aiding in construction. The first of these is the Matrice 210 RTK V2, a reliably tough drone that’s suited for many different jobs. This drone features a reliable and stable flight with an operating system that supports automatic dual frequency band switching and a flight range of up to 8km.

You can calibrate the Matrice 210 RTK V2 through the DJI Pilot app whenever you need to install multiple or third-party payloads. It also uses a TimeSync system to continuously align the different features of the drone to ensure data accuracy. This drone features a discreet mode where you can disable all of the lights, which is perfect for unobtrusive nighttime construction work.

The Matrice 210 RTK V2 supports different modular cameras that you can choose depending on the type of job you want done. Users can choose from high-resolution visual imaging with the Zenmuse X7 camera, thermal imaging with the Zenmuse XT2 camera, or long range zoom with the Zenmuse Z30. This flexibility makes the Matrice 210 RTK V2 a perfect fit for a wide variety of jobs.



Phantom 4 RTK

The Phantom 4 RTK is a complete drone solution with a built in camera and Gimbal stabilizer. This drone is ideal for mapping at low altitudes with crystal clear accuracy. It is particularly handy for surveyors, offering a range of control schemes and complimentary technologies.

Similarly to the Matrice 210 RTK, the Phantom 4 RTK features a TimeSync system that continually aligns the flight controller with the camera and RTK module. However, the Phantom 4 RTK stands apart thanks to its built in camera. The camera has a 1-inch image sensor that shoots 20-megapixel photos. The mechanical shutter is perfect for mapping missions as well as regular data capture, allowing the drone to move while taking pictures without blurring the photos.

The Phantom 4 RTK uses RTK based precision positioning for centimeter-level accuracy in captured images. The module is integrated directly into the drone, giving you real-time, centimeter-level positioning data. This data is then stored to be used for Post Processed Kinematics (PPK), a service that can be conducted using the DJI Cloud PPK Service.



Mavic 2 Enterprise

The Mavic 2 Enterprise series are drones with a compact, foldable design that can be deployed quickly. The imaging system was developed to assist pilots in close-range missions and ensure the accuracy of captured data. This drone series features modular attachments such as the spotlight, which is perfect for inspection or surveillance. The M2E spotlight can help enhance vision in low-light areas and direct persons through the construction site.

The series includes two drones: the Mavic 2 Enterprise and the Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual. The Mavic 2 Enterprise features a 6x zoom camera with powerful zoom capability. The zoom camera allows you to operate in close range missions without risking bodily harm. It also offers post analysis metadata including GPS timestamping.

The Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual features a thermal camera with visible and thermal imagery. This technology allows you to monitor and measure temperatures, giving you accurate heat measurements on a multitude of different objects and scenarios. You can even use the Customize feature to set predefined Isotherm settings according to your operational needs.



Common Applications For Drones In Construction

Surveying/Mapping

Manually surveying a construction site could take a surveyor half a day. With the use of a drone, this could be completed within as little as 15 minutes. The data collected by the drone would be much more detailed and accurate than manually collected data thanks to the drone’s ability to capture constant visual imagery while in flight. You can also process the imagery using software to create different kinds of maps for the site.

The best combination for surveying and mapping would be the Matrice 210 RTK V2 equipped with the Zenmuse X7 camera, which would give you 24-megapixel images. The Phantom 4 RTK would also be a good choice for this, although the images would be 20-megapixel instead of 24-megapixel.

Regardless, both drones would be RTK enabled, giving you a centimeter-level accurate GPS location of where the image is shot. They also both feature mechanical shutters to help eliminate distortion in the images. While the Mavic 2 Enterprise drones could be used for this, they will feature a much lower resolution and lower accuracy levels.



Volumetric Analysis/Stockpile Measurement

The use of drones would save countless hours of manpower that would otherwise be wasted on manually measuring inventory around the site. Volumetric analysis and stockpile measurement would be best achieved with the same drone choice as surveying and mapping. The high-resolution images and centimeter-level GPS accuracy of these drones is perfect for measuring stockpiles of various materials around the site.

3D Modeling

Drones could easily be used to capture 3D models to help provide clients or stakeholders with detailed reports on how the job is progressing on-site. Plus, you’d be able to capture aerial shots or videos to create 3D models on a regular basis thanks to the low cost of using drones. The ease in capturing visual data would enable you to create real-time 3D models that would be cost-prohibitive if achieved via helicopter. The Matrice 210 RTK V2 with the Zenmuse X7 camera and the Phantom 4 RTK would also be best suited for creating 3D and orthomosaic maps of the construction site thanks to the resolution and accuracy of these drones.

Inspection

Drones can inspect structures much faster and more safely than manual methods. The Matrice 210 RTK V2 equipped with a Z30 camera and the XT2 thermal camera is the perfect fit. The Z30 camera would give you long range zoom up to 180x, making inspections safer since you can fly the drone from a safe distance and zoom into the inspection area. Even from such a great distance, the camera would be able to capture incredible high detail images.

The XT2 camera would give you thermal imaging to detect heat leakage or roofing problems, helping you catch them before they grow. The Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual drone would also be great for inspections, as it’s compact and easy to use. It also features thermal and visual imaging, but costs quite a bit less than the Matrice series does.

Phantom 4 RTK

Surveillance and Security

Drones are an excellent choice for maintaining security on a construction site, as they can quickly spot security risks such as gaps in fencing. Perimeter gaps can lead to accidents if civilians accidentally wander onsite, so catching these quickly is imperative. The same combination of the Matrice 210 RTK V2 with the Z30 zoom camera and the XT2 thermal camera is ideal for surveillance and security. Even at night, the XT2 camera would be able to detect the temperature difference of people and animals.

The Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual would also be a cheaper option, since it features the same thermal and visual imaging. Both the M2ED and the XT2 thermal camera also supports the FLIR MSX, a feature that improves thermal images and shows a lot more detail.

Project Progress Tracking

Drones are perfect for tracking progress and identifying any potential problems or delays with the job. Any drone with a camera would be suited for project progress tracking, since it simply involves tracking progress over time with simple pictures and videos. If you were looking to track progress in a more advanced way, you could run repetitive mapping missions over an extended period of time for which, the Matrice 210 RTK V2 with the Zenmuse X7 camera or the Phantom 4 RTK would both be ideal.


Mavic 2 Enterprise

Drones: The Way Of The Future

The Canadian construction workforce is aging, leading to a shortage of construction workers and a need to fill in the gaps. Drones are quickly filling the void for construction companies by providing safe and cost-effective ways to map buildings, help with inspections, and track project progress. By using DJI drones to do the menial and dangerous work, construction companies can save money and free up their workers to do other tasks.

As technology continues to advance, companies need to advance with it. DJI Drones are being implemented by construction companies at a rapid rate, and adding drones to your workforce is an excellent way to remain competitive. Not only will your site be safer and your workers more efficient, but your stakeholders will be delighted by the money you’ll save on manpower.