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

Earthmovers & Excavators - - News -

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.


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.


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

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