Construction research group CIRIA is set to publish the first best practice guide on the use of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the construction and civil engineering sectors.
The use of drones in construction and civils projects has been underway for several years, however, there is a lack of independent industry accepted guidance on their use within infrastructure projects and management.
With support from across the industry, including HS2, Network Rail, Thames Tideway and Highways England, CIRIA (construction industry research and information association) is finalising the first edition of the guide to help establish good practice for the use of UAVs, titled Unmanned aerial vehicles for managing assets.
CIRIA associate director Kieran Tully said the use of drones on civil engineering and construction projects was becoming commonplace. “UAV’s are becoming ubiquitous in their use,” he said. “There was agreement across the industry that we needed to look at all types of drones, the sensors they carry, and flight management, a comprehensive approach.”
The guide covers not only drones and sensor technology, but also data acquisition using UAVs and decision-making support with UAV data.
Institute of Asset Management chief executive David McKeown, in the foreword of the guide, said: “Access to infrastructure for inspection and maintenance or repair purposes is often expensive and potentially hazardous to both staff and operations or customer. This guide demonstrates how much easier and more efficient it can be to use UAVs that with good planning can also be quick and safe.”
CIRIA’s guide also looks at the future of drone use, including beyond-line-of-sight use, which could revolutionise asset inspections and surveying. However using drones beyond the normal line of sight is currently against civil aviation authority rules in the UK, although trials have been conducted in the United States using drones to remotely monitor powerlines, a dangerous job traditionally done by helicopter-bourne engineers.
Trials have also been conducted by using drones for site safety monitoring by Thames Tideway and drone specialist SenSat (pictured).
The guide was written in conjuction with Mott MacDonald engineers Ben Carlisle, Johan Hagstrom and Shane Browne, and is due to be published later this month.
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