by Amr Raafat
The use of drone technology is becoming more and more mainstream. So much so that these days, the sound of that unnatural buzzing overhead hardly provokes more than a casual glance upwards. Everyone from Amazon to Uber is touting the use – or future use – of drones to enhance and expand their service offerings.
The reality is we are still unlocking the potential of this emerging technology, particularly in construction. At Windover Construction, we are passionate about pushing the envelope of how drones can be combined with other leading-edge technologies to benefit our clients and project teams. The use of drone mapping, laser scanning, and VR technologies is transforming the construction workflow and helping us mitigate risk on job sites.
Intuitively, using drones during the preconstruction and construction phases makes sense. A bird’s-eye view of existing site conditions and construction progress can provide significant advantages. But that’s not to say that once a project is complete, the technology is no longer applicable. For example, Windover had recently completed a new state-of-the-art athletic facility when it was discovered that some of the stadium lighting was shining into a nearby residence during night games. Seeing the potential to apply our industry-leading VDC capabilities, we used drone mapping to create a virtual model of the entire completed project site and surrounding neighborhood. By combining this drone map with 3D modeling and virtual reality, Windover performed a lighting study to measure the intensity and distance of the stadium lights virtually.
In a matter of minutes, we were able to demonstrate the effectiveness of various light blocking options – everything from planting new trees to installing a light shade structure. With the accuracy of the data captured from the drone, the team was able to determine that the most effective option would be placing a light shade at the edge of the turf playing field. Using data collected by drones, we verified the exact size, elevation, and placement that would be necessary before ever breaking soil. This provided the client significant savings by avoiding a more traditional trial-and-error approach.
As one of the few construction firms embracing drone technology in construction, Windover has continued to find new and innovative methods of utilizing this exciting technology throughout the entire life of a project. From preconstruction to post-construction, VDC technologies such as drones, laser mapping, laser scanning, and 3D modeling have given us the tools to be a trusted partner for our clients and provide solutions to issues that may arise.
Amr Raafat is the director of the Virtual Design & Construction team at Windover Construction.