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Tideway works inspire on-site safety drones


Sensat has developed drones capable of high-resolution 3D mapping, and real time tracking to improve on-site health and safety on projects such as Tideway.   

London based Sensat specialise in the use of fixed wing UAVs to gather engineering-grade survey data that is fully machine readable and can be updated in real time.  

The idea to use drones for safety came about when Costain approached Sensat to develop a solution for health and safety on Tideway sites.  

“Costain knew there were dangerous areas, confined spaces and big shafts, there were a lot of diggers and plant material moving around’,” Sensat founder and chief executive James Dean told New Civil Engineer.  


Sensat fixed-wing drone

Sensat operates fixed-wing drones to capture high-resolution geographic data

“They asked ‘Is there a way we can track people so we can see if they are in areas they are not meant to be, so we can get them out of those areas and improve shift briefings?’” 

The data collected from Sensat drones can be used to build a 3D map of a construction site, and this is combined with wearable sensors, which resemble fitbit-style watches worn by workers.  

The watches ping data back to the operator every 10 seconds using an internet-of-things style network. The location data updates in real time and can be viewed by a site supervisor on a specialised web-app.  

“As an industry we are becoming very safety conscious,” Dean said. “But health consciousness is lagging. Of 100 health and safety incidents, 99 of them are health incidences.” 

“An overwhelming amount of these are heart attacks as a result of physical activity, and you can detect a potential heart attack using irregularities in the pulse, which could be detected by the watches.”  

The next iteration of the idea, Dean says, is to use the fitbits to track workers heart rate, and if a heart attack is detected, the system could automatically call an ambulance as well as alert first responders on site.  

Sensat has already worked on major projects, including the largest UAV surveying job in the UK for HS2. Sensat drones flew entire 147Km of proposed route, covering 23km per day, to an accuracy of 30-50 mm.

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