Drone technology, reality capture, construction

Ian Tansey of ProDroneWorx discusses how digital/reality capture outputs from drone technology revolutionised the management of a construction project

The construction industry is starting to realise that digital or reality capture information is now becoming an essential part of conducting business because of the many benefits drone technology brings.

Building firms are starting to embrace change, technology and new construction methods to increase their margins and deliver a superior product and service to the end client. They are starting to embrace new digital technologies such as drones, BIM, data analytics and offsite manufacturing.

ProDroneWorx was engaged by warehouse developer Baytree and Readie Construction to produce regular, survey-grade accurate 2D/3D digital or reality capture outputs for the entire length of the project using drone technology on one of their prime developments, a new 250,000-plus sq ft logistics building in Dunstable, close to the Junction 11 A of the M1.

The digital/reality capture outputs (3D point cloud/textured model, digital surface model (DSM), 2D orthomosaic, Google KMZ) created using drone technology and photogrammetry enabled both the developer and the contractor improve the digital management of this large, 15-acre asset, provided deeper data insights, better collaboration on the project, improved data deliverables to clients while reducing costs and risks.

A digital twin of this project was regularly created to keep pace with changes onsite and used as follows:

  • Helped surveyors, designers, project managers and senior management understand progress related to the design models.
  • Managed earthworks with cut and fill volumetric measurements.
  • Enabled progress monitoring of the project at all stages of the build and against the design models and progress month to month.
  • Quality assurance checks of the steel frame construction and integration of the high-resolution imagery into BIM.
  • Evidence regarding the amount of work carried out.
  • Outputs were used within Virtual Reality (VR) and combined with BIM.
  • 2D/3D reality capture outputs were integrated into existing workflow processes as the data was produced in various CAD, BIM and GIS formats, eg dwg, dxf, xyz, las, laz, obj and e57.

Survey-grade, accurate 3D point clouds were created on this large, 15-acre project of all areas, objects and structures using photogrammetry within two days of flying. The point cloud produced from a drone contained over 100m points across the entire site with accuracies of less than 5cm and these were verified using checkpoints.

The models have imported into BIM or CAD software so that comparisons could be made against the design models and between time periods to track progress and ensuring the build was on schedule.

The data was also used to closely manage earthworks onsite, cut and fill volumetric calculations were carried out from the point cloud data.

The single high-resolution orthomosaics that were produced were orthorectified so measurements could be taken from them. They were also tied into the OS grid using ground control points for global accuracy.

CAD models were overlaid on the orthomosaics in the project design phase to understand and plan the orientation of buildings, road, footpaths and services. It gave the user unique insights into the site and its surrounding area while also allowing the onsite and offsite teams to check project progress against design drawings.

Readie Construction said: “The digital information produced by drone technology changed the way we managed this project, saving us both time and money. In just two days of the drone flight, the 2D and 3D digital outputs were ready for analysis, which [due to the size of the project] would not always be possible using traditional methods. We were then able to use the data in our regular team meetings with contactors and to provide our client with progress on the project. Drone technology is the future of construction!”

Baytree said: “As a pan-European warehouse development business, we are committed to pushing forward with an emerging technology platform to provide discernible benefits for our investors and building users. We are convinced that consistent deployment of innovative digital solutions will open new opportunities for Baytree and our design, construction and asset management partners.”


Ian Tansey

Managing Director


Tel: +44 (0)7805 864642



Twitter: ProDroneWorx

LinkedIn: ProDroneWorx



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