Drones are gaining momentum in the engineering world with capabilities that enable better and more accurate data for civil engineers and workers in the field. This article explores some of the ways drones can be helpful in road engineering.
1. Ground mapping
For a road designer (transport engineer) any new project starts by digging into the GIS (geographic information system) database for blueprints of the area they will be working on. These blueprints, however, are almost never true to the parameters that can quickly escalate from mistakes to blunders and can incur losses to everyone associated with the project.
Figure 1: A graphic showing how ground penetrating radar works for concrete inspection
Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) can be used with drones to do the aerial mapping of the subsurface to identify objects such as wiring and water pipe depths, changes in material properties, voids and cracks. All this can be done at a much faster rate by the drones and could save labor and time that is currently invested in doing these jobs.
2. Grade checks
Grading is performed during road construction (and other construction projects) to ensure a level base is maintained. Grading is performed by heavy machines such as bulldozers and scrapers. Grade checks and verifications are performed when one phase of the work completes. During the checks the workers have to sit idle while the engineer perform the checks.
Figure 2: Grade check by drone (concept)
Drones can preform tasks during the job faster, thus reducing the downtime during construction. Leveling rods can be fitted to the drones which can then be operated by the workers and the reading recorded and analyzed by person sitting far off.
3. On-site inspection
A Construction site can often get over crowded with various workers, engineers, and city inspectors all together on site thus increasing safety concerns for each and the need to adopt safety measures for all, which can raise the project expenses and can be an inconvenience to workers. Sometimes the presence of engineers and inspectors on site is unnecessary and takes away from their time on the project which causes delays.
Figure 3: Drone surveying the area
Such delays can be avoided if a live feed can be sent to them in their office, which would save the engineer the time and effort of going on site. It will also prevent crowding of construction site.
4. Measuring tool
Distances can be measured quicker and without human intervention using drones. Odometers, such as Fast Measure, can be fitted with drones and can be used to survey the area and measure the distances without human involvement, thus saving time and labor.
Our engineers can best use their expertise by using drones to gather and better visualize data in a more expedient and efficient manner increasing success, cost savings and safety on the job.
If you work in construction, let us know your thoughts on the ways that drones can bring value to you and your team.
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