The construction industry relies on skilled labor, with problem-solving skills that are beyond reach of the most advanced robotics today. Nevertheless, UAV’s are already being used in strategic situations, to help inspect buildings more efficiently, and safely at construction sites using aerial imaging capabilities.
For example, Danis Construction based in Dayton OH recently acquired a DJI phantom drone, and had this to say:
“There are a lot of ways this could help us do things more safely,” said Rob Mauro, MEP coordinator for Danis. “Whether it’s surveying an unsound roof or some kind of situation where we need to set up scaffolding or where there’s risk involved, this could help.”
Beyond aerial inspections, and mapping, UAV’s can actually be used to build structures. In Switzerland, researchers have used a fleet of quadcopters to assemble a 6-meter tower by laying 1,500 prefabricated polystyrene foam bricks.
The installation involves a fleet of quadrocopters that are programmed to interact, lift, transport and assemble the final tower, all the time receiving commands wirelessly from a local control room. The tower, which will boast a height of 6 meters (19.7 feet) and a diameter of 3.5 meters (11.5 feet), will be constructed within a 10 x 10 x 10 meter (32.8 x 32.8 x 32.8 foot) airspace, in which up to 50 vehicles can be tracked simultaneously
This video shows a swarm of quadcopters flying in coordinated formations, and even around obstacles. It demonstrates the huge potential for construction automation. In fact, Swiss researchers have programmed quadcopters to build a working rope bridge.
Worldwide, drones are helping construction companies save time, money and risk with data collected with aerial mapping and inspections. And with future advances in artificial intelligence, UAV’s may actually become master builders themselves!