A view from above: Surveying and inspecting via drones

When it comes to surveying, inspecting, mapping and other engineering planning steps, the ability to mitigate human risk and project costs is key. While relying on human expertise has been the industry standard for decades, increased automation and the sophistication of remote surveying tools has led to a paradigm shift when it comes to engineering and construction planning.

“The commercial use of drones has been a hot topic.”

The commercial use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems – known colloquially as “drones” – in both engineering and private applications has been a hot topic for many industries. Initially, as the technology took off, the virtually limitless potential drove the development of the drone market.

“Whether you’re delivering packages or inspecting pipelines or doing precision AG work, all these types of applications need a vehicle that can get in and out of tight spaces and potentially hover, but then also move long distances efficiently,” JD Claridge, CEO and co-founder of drone startup xCraft, told over 300 drone experts and enthusiasts at the North Dakota-based DroneFocus 2016.

Compact and able to be operated remotely, drones can effectively limit engineering personnel exposure to hazardous working and surveying conditions. This makes Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) an effective tool for ensuring OSHA compliance. Even better, the ability to survey from above and move quickly means that boundary and topographic surveys can be conducted faster and cheaper than traditional means, according to Tony Knievel, chief surveyor with the Campbell County Department of Public Works, Wyoming.

However, the explosion of drone development largely took place prior to the establishments of regulatory guidance related to their use. The commercial market especially has seen strict regulations put into place by the Federal Aviation Administration, following the growing number of incidents where drones have interfered with commercial aircrafts or intruded on federal airspace. This has led to a clampdown on the use of drones in engineering projects, save for select county projects like those proposed by Knievel, where the goal is to save taxpayers money. So what are commercial enterprises with intensive engineering projects to do?

HGA is one of the select few engineering service providers approved by the FAA for commercial use of UASs. We utilize custom-designed UASs, built by in-house expert personnel specifically for the purpose of survey and inspection work. We employ industry-leading photogrammetric equipment and software to provide 3-D imagery in GPS coordinates, which can be leveraged to minimize time to survey in the field and reduce exposure to harmful situations.

Via our proprietary UASs, your project can shave off significant expense, more effectively ensure OSHA compliance and protect personnel in hazardous or precarious survey environments. To find out more, contact HGA today.