An unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly known as a drone, is an unpiloted, autonomous vehicle capable of controlled and sustained levels of flight.
What Are Drones Used For?
Drones can be used in a wide range of settings. They can move quickly over irregular or uneven terrain, overcome obstacles, and capture images and other types of data at a bird’s-eye view… all thanks to devices that can be transported (cameras, sensors…) at no risk to humans.
That is why we use drones in our work. We choose the most appropriate type of drone and the sensors that we need (cameras, lidar sensors, etc.) depending on what it will be used for and the type of data we need to measure during flight.
In addition, our Digital Hub promotes the use of drones, offering project support to better understand regulations and to stay up to date on current standards. Our Digital Hub has also created the “FLY-AI” tool, which allows us to (among other things) efficiently manage the documentation needed to use drones, get internal flight approval and inspect infrastructures automatically using artificial intelligence algorithms.
Visual infrastructure inspection is one of the areas where we already use unmanned aerial vehicles. There are two main reasons for this: on the one hand, cost savings derived from the relative ease with which we can access the infrastructure and, on the other hand, they significantly decrease risk for our personnel.
An example of how we use drones is to inspect transmission lines in Chile.
Lidar-sensor drones or high-resolution cameras can be used to run topographic surveys and create three-dimensional models. With this data, maps can be generated, construction progress can be analyzed and excavated material volumes can be calculated among others.
Drones and the Environment
Drones also play a role in the environment. Drones equipped with a thermal imaging camera can provide, for example, an overall view of a landfill: hot spots, areas with moisture, etc. They can also be used to fly over large areas of vegetation, therefore facilitating maintenance tasks.
When it comes to preserving viaducts near a road, charter a drone to carry out the analysis. It is cheaper, safer and quicker than sending specialized personnel or a helicopter. If a problem is detected, it will still require action, but drones reduce some work that, before their existence, required on-site personnel.
Aerial control projects and runway safety projects already exist at airports. Here is an example of a project carried out at the Southampton Airport: A drone that looks like a real-life predator reduced the presence of birds on the runway by 74%, which, in turn, reduced airport operation costs.