Drones taking off in earthmoving
Drones have the potential to revolutionise the construction, mining and earthmoving industries. The team at Volvo CE takes a look ahead
Floating effortlessly and able to be positioned with great accuracy, drones – also referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – are becoming an increasingly popular tool in the construction industry.
Named after stingless male bees, drones were originally a military technology dating back to the siege of Venice in 1849, when pilotless flying machines were used as weapons. However, it wasn’t until 1935 that the first truly successful drone, the De Havilland DH82B Queen Bee, joined the service in Britain.
Fast-forward some 82 years later. Military UAVs account for nearly 90 per cent of worldwide spending on drones and recreational models aimed at consumers are on the rise – in 2016, around 2 million recreational drones were sold.
According to to the 2016 ‘Drones Reporting for Work’, Goldman Sachs report, of the US$100 billion likely to be spent on military and civilian drones between 2016 and 2020, the commercial segment will be the fastest growing – with construction accounting for US$11.2 billion, agriculture US$4.9 billion, insurance US$1.4 billion and infrastructure inspection $1.1 billion.
ACCESS ALL AREAS
The construction industry is looking at the tech from a bird’s-eye view. Job sites are large and often inaccessible, but drones can change that.
Drones offer a faster and more accurate way of surveying sites and gathering measurements. This information can then be used to create a digital model of a site, helping contractors save time and money – and get greater accuracy – on site surveys and project setups.
Drones that have the ability to scan using lasers can also enter the results into Building Information Models (BIM), providing a digital representation of a site’s physical characteristics for other project professionals to use, as well as a verifiable record of progress.
Drones can also take aerial thermal imaging recordings, which can be used to monitor gas emissions and identify gas leaks.
Everyone wants to make construction safer, and drones have the potential to do just that.
Drones can be sent into high-risk areas and footage can then be monitored in real time from the safety of off-site offices. In addition, drones are able to monitor workplace conditions and transmit photos of a proposed worksite, enabling workers to prepare prior to entering the area.
FLYING YELLOW METAL
Construction companies are catching on to the benefits of this technology and responding by creating partnerships with drone suppliers. Volvo Construction Equipment is taking a measured approach to ensure the technology produces the most appropriate solutions for its customers.
“Drones will definitely play an important role in the construction industry, but exactly how Volvo CE will engage with this technology still needs to be worked out,” Volvo CE emerging technologies director Jenny Elfsberg says.
“(We are) exploring this technology as well as several of the different players in this industry. With standardisation not yet in place and different approaches being taken in different countries, we are keeping a close eye on the rules and regulations.” The sky’s the limit.
Everyone wants to make construction safer, and drones have the potential to do just that