How Drones are Being Used in the Construction Industry
Posted by Michael S. on June 27, 2016 in Contractor Focus

The construction industry is certainly not known for being a quick adopter of new technology, but it certainly is embracing drones. Drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are quickly becoming commonplace in the construction industry. Of all the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) exemptions granted to companies seeking legal use of drones for commercial purposes, nearly 40 percent of them have gone to the construction and infrastructure industries, according to a report issued by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Drones are pivotal tools for aerial mapping, surveying, capturing images of work sites, and inspecting bridges and other structures. They are far less expensive than using any manned aircraft, and they can go places difficult or unsafe for man to reach.


Drones are also being paired with software that allows them to monitor work sites and flag elements falling behind schedule. They collect video of the structure under construction to create a 3D image. The software compares that image to a work plan that shows when each element should be completed. This allows managers to take quick action to remedy a problem. 


Drones could also be used to transport materials and supplies. They will never have the stability or load capacity of a crane, but their speed and versatility could make drones a handy complement to cranes.


It is also conceivable that drones could be programmed to do welding, drilling, or fastening jobs. Drones can be outfitted with a robotic arm and programmed to do specific tasks. Imagine the efficiency and safety of using drones to do actual construction work on a bridge or high-rise construction project.


While drones will only become more prevalent and useful on the jobsite, we caution you to consider a few things before buying one for your construction business:


  • The regulations and restrictions on the use of drones for commercial purposes have been evolving and will continue to change as the FAA learns more about them and their uses. 
  • All drones weighing between 0.5 and 55 pounds have to be registered with the FAA.
  • Companies that use drones for commercial purposes currently have to obtain an exemption from the FAA, though that will likely change when the agency finalizes its proposed rule on small UAVs.
  • There are numerous no-fly zones and temporary flight restrictions to be aware of.
  • Consider that legal liability of drone use is not insured with a standard general liability insurance policy. You would need to talk to your agent about finding coverage from a willing insurer. 


If you are interested in utilizing a drone in your construction operations, be sure to check the current FAA regulations and flight restrictions and find an insurer who will cover drone operations. 

Michael S.
Michael S. is a construction market analyst who has worked at ACUITY over 26 years. He has been heavily involved in the construction industry since 2009. His love for construction started at a young age, which motivated him to get more involved in construction business at ACUITY. In his spare time, Mike likes to be outside and enjoy nature by hiking and running. If he could pick any travel destination in the world it would be somewhere with trees, mountains, rivers, lakes, wildlife, and hiking trails.

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