Drones – or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – could be used to help with flood prevention measures, after being given the go-ahead to operate by The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Urban flood specialist Richard Allitt Associates (RAA), based in Haywards Heath, has used drones to carry out aerial surveys.
It has worked alongside the Environment Agency and water companies such as Severn Trent and Thames Water.
The company’s new Remote Aerial Survey business uses drones to carry imaging equipment.
RAA director Martin Allitt said: “This service will help us gain images with a greater perspective and depth of imagery with fantastic levels of accuracy. UAVs will allow us to undertake surveys of areas we would never be able to reach on foot, such as marshland, rivers and industrial sites.
“It will provide a way to assess more accurately the impact of climate change and floods such as those caused during last year’s exceptionally wet weather. We work to provide schemes to manage flood water better, diverting it away from businesses, residential homes and, of course, people.”
He added: “UAVs fitted with thermal imaging cameras have a level of thermal sensitivity that allows them to detect the most subtle differences in temperature, making the photography ideal for use in a wide range of applications including inspection of power lines and solar panel farms and the identification of damp in insulation.”
According to RAA, the drones fly at a low enough altitude to operate effectively, but high enough not to infringe on individuals’ personal space.
Allitt said: “Operators must prove that they are flying with the safety and privacy of the public as a fundamental concern, which involves demonstrating high levels of insurance and having all ‘remote pilots’ qualified b y a CAA-approved body.”