Utilities and engineering

Engineers and utility service teams choose drones as useful tools in various aspects of their work, be it for inspections, creating digital twins, or other planning and monitoring applications. The accuracy of drone data applies to many engineering applications, as does the widespread usability of the data outputs.

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    What are the benefits of drones in engineering?

    Reduce costs – Avoid downtime or interruptions with drone data capture. Accurate and up-to-date data aids planning and design, allowing timely decision-making and helping avoid costly rework.

    Accuracy – Capture data efficiently and cost-effectively at engineering accuracies for planning, cost estimations, and pre- and as-built surveys.

    Safety – Map and measure inaccessible or dangerous infrastructure and sites without putting surveyors and engineers at risk.

    Timely delivery – Understand projects in their real-world context and plan accordingly. Map large areas at a time without downtime or interruption. Efficient data capture saves time and helps deliver projects on time.

    Automation – High-resolution drone data can be used in automated workflows which speed up projects and reduce labor costs.

    Compatibility – Produce data that can be used with most engineering software solutions and complement all stages of a project. Complement drone data with other sensor data such as laser scanners.

    What are the applications of drones in engineering?

    Feasibility assessment – Fixed-wing drones can be used to capture accurate project and site conditions to determine a project’s feasibility, assist in cost estimations, and to plan and visualize work and logistics before a project start.

    Survey and mapping – Reduce time and costs to regularly map and survey infrastructure to a high spatial accuracy without downtime or interruption to other site work.

    As-builts and digital twins – Capture and visualize infrastructure as it occurs in the real world. Work with up-to-date data for virtual design and planning, and avoid costly errors and reworks caused by out-of-date designs and information.

    Monitoring progress – Stay on top of projects with accurate and up-to-date data to assess project schedules, track work progress, and adjust schedules as needed.

    Reporting – Generate volume and cut-and-fill reports, calculate costs based on area, and report progress quickly.

    Infrastructure inspections – Map and inspect road surfaces, power lines, water bodies, and more. Use this to inform and plan maintenance, and for compliance reporting.

    Environmental compliance – Capture accurate conditions prior to project commencement, monitor and mitigate environmental harm, restore damaged environments to their original state. Monitor and proof compliance throughout engineering works.

    Coordination and presentation – Visualize projects for clients, investors, and other stakeholders, and enhance collaboration and coordination once a project starts.

    What types of drone data outputs can you expect?

    Orthomosaic map – A geospatially accurate and detailed 2D representation of a site. Accurate orthomosaic maps help agronomists monitor fields and extract other insights.

    Digital Surface Model (DSM) – DSMs accurately depict elevation and are useful in water management and soil monitoring applications. In bare-Earth projects the DSM can also be used as a digital elevation model (DEM).

    3D mesh map – A three-dimensional texture (mesh) map with X, Y, Z data can be used for cluster analyses or to characterize crop sizes.

    Point clouds – Point cloud maps comprise millions of individual points featuring X, Y, Z geospatial coordinates, and can be used in volume and cut-and-fill measurements, or distance and area calculations, which can be used in costing and other planning.

    Contour lines – Topographic maps take X and Y coordinates from the aerial drone data to generate precise contour intervals.

    What software do you need?

    • eMotion software is a leading drone software solution for flight planning, geotagging and photo stitching. From here the imagery can be exported for further processing in Pix4D and other software.
    • Measure Ground Control software can be used to plan flights, manage drone fleets, and for mapping and data analyses
    • PIX4Dmapper and Pix4Dmatic photogrammetry software is a popular solution for accurate infrastructure mapping and analyses at scale.

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