Drone Applications in Engineering and Construction

by Nathan Laudick on March 18, 2016

There has been a lot in the news about drones over the last couple of years, and this is with good cause.  Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), have been used almost exclusively by the military over the previous decade.  However, with the rise of consumer electronic giants like Apple there has been a sharp decrease in the cost and size of electronic sensors like accelerometers and gyroscopes.  Because of this consumer grade drone are becoming more and more capable and EVstudio is putting them to use.

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There are some commercial grade drones made for surveying, Trimble for example, but these drones cost tens of thousands of dollars.  Unless your company has a definite need for a product like this it was hard to make the investment.  However, companies like 3DR Robotics and DJI are now building drones with gimbaled cameras allowing for very smooth video and still photo capture that cost around $1000.  3DR Robotics has also released a free application for Android called Tower which allows you to set up surveying missions.  The photo to the left shows a grid created by the application that the drone will fly autonomously to capture aerial imagery.  Settings such as photo overlap, flight speed, altitude, and camera type can be adjusted to optimize the flight.

Besides the obvious deliverable of photos and video from aerial drone platforms, there is an amazing software package called Pix4Dmapper that can take standard 2D imagery and make highly accurate 3D models.  See the videos for comparisons of the flight video vs. the 3D models created by Pix4DMapper.  The use cases for 3D modeling from imagery range from topographic mapping to construction inspections.

With Amazon planning future deliveries with drones to the price of above stated drone platforms reaching levels where the average small company can experiment with their uses, it is surely an exciting time for drone technology.

We shot this video at one of our projects to generate a 3D model, see if you can tell which is the video and which is the 3D model.

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