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Next-generation innovations were the focus this past weekend at the CES (Consumer Electronic Show) in Las Vegas. CES is the world’s gathering place for those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. The show has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for 50 years. So with innovation and technology in mind, METALCON’s MMM focuses on drones in construction and how far they’ve come over the past several years. Construction Dive recently took a deeper look into the subject in their new series, “Tech 101.”

Construction Dive reports, “Drones have become the go-to tool for construction firms to track, map, survey, inspect, and manage worksites more efficiently and safely,” said Dan Burton, founder of DroneBase, a drone pilot network that provides support for construction companies. “Through aerial imagery and data, builders can map projects, report progress updates and gain insights through advanced analytics to make better, faster and more reliable decisions.”

Contractors are using the autonomous flying machines to record images and videos that help optimize everything from grading plans and operations to identifying differences between as-designed and as-built site plans. Their usefulness can be enhanced with thermal cameras and other add-ons like mapping tools and GPS units. 

Present day large-scale construction sites are relying on drone photographer to stay on schedule. Dustin Williams, CEO and founder of FlywheelAEC, a reality capture service provider based in San Francisco says his company provides weekly drone flights over the Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium jobsite in Las Vegas. ​Drone provider Skycatch is recording all construction activity on Microsoft’s Redmond campus renovation project, feeding data into more than 100 models that contain almost 3 million 3D building components.​ And Denver-based PCL Construction has utilized drones for more than three years on nearly all of its major projects to improve jobsite communication, perform volumetric analysis, overlay design documents with installed work for visual verification, verify grades and provide historical documentation. ​​

Selecting the right type of drone model is important to make sure you obtain the information you are wanting. Construction Dive reports, “Contractors also need to know that despite the perceived low barrier to entry due to the affordable cost of consumer drones, many specialty technical skills are required, as well as professional-grade hardware and software.” Something else to be mindful of are the new FAA guidelines that are expected to be released within a few years. When the new regulations hit in a few years, according to the Washington Post, FAA compliance for drone operators will be more important than ever and companies will need to make sure they have proper clearance, insurance and licenses before flying.

The article also highlights some roadblocks, commenting that “Drone technology rapidly continues to evolve and bring new applications and benefits every month, but the quick pace of innovation can also be a drawback for contractors who are trying to keep up with the changes.” These include:

  • Getting buy-in from construction company leaders.
  • Deciding whether to invest in hardware and training for an in-house pilot or soliciting a drone service provider.
  • Finding a drone service provider that understands the needs of the AEC industry.
  • Ensuring secure transmission of data.

Back by popular demand, the CONTECH Hub will once again be a featured part of the METALCON 2020 show. The Hub made it’s debut at last year’s METALCON show held in Pittsburgh, PA, and and featured drone technology as one of the hot trends in construction technology. METALCON 2020 will take place this year in the Las Vegas Convention Center October 21 – 23.

Photo Credit: METALCON

For the full article in Construction Dive, click HERE.