If you haven't already heard drones are coming to workzones in more ways than you might imagine. In this post we are going to breakdown the different types of drones and how they might be utilized to serve our industry.
Consumer camera drones are currently being used for inspections. Think of cell phone towers, water tanks, and bridge work essentially anything vertical construction related. We just bought one of these ourselves mostly for making more quality content for you guys but also for precision documentation of traffic control setups. In addition to the vertical construction, we can use infrared(or heat sensing) cameras. Infrared can be used to find busted water lines or gas leaks. By releasing water or gasses that are at a different temperature you are able to see the contrast instantly. This allows workers to spot the exact location of a leak in a matter of minutes.
Fixed wing drones are used for survey grade mapping that renders accurate 3D images. The one featured to your right is one of many that have already hit the market. If everything goes smoothly you would be looking at significant increases in productivity.
Ever need security or monitoring cameras for your construction site? have you ever thought about just using one? With tethered balloons or kites you can cover a far larger area for days. It is unclear how long a helium balloon will last in the sky but you are looking at a minimum of 24 hrs. While kites will last as long as you have battery in your camera & wind speeds between 5-30MPH. In one case, they used a balloon in a box(trailer) for surveillance over an entire city. Which makes a 10 mile long Workzone look like child's play. It seems to me that at some point this will be the new standard for security systems. A balloon even with the cost of helium is a whole lot cheaper then a camera trailer.
Micro drones may some day be your new pipe inspectors. I say "may" because in order to fly micro drones without crashing you have to be really good. I flew my friends micro-drone and it devolved to a competition, to see who could fly it the longest without crashing. At some point they will become autonomous and will be more affordable and faster then the old snake cameras. Drones also have capabilities to tie into inertia trackers allowing them to show you the location of a crack or pipe that is in need of repair within one millimeter.
In closing, technology in drones is continually increasing and as the skill level required to operate them decreases at some point the bubble will pop in the construction world. I'm not saying go out a buy one, but you should keep an eye on them. Please feel free to add to the conversation in the comment box below, this article is just scratching the surface.