March 2, 2022
The capabilities that we have gained through the use of drone technology in our field is truly remarkable. Our CEI Team in particular uses drones in a variety of ways to enhance the services they provide.
Joseph Efinger, Senior Inspector in our Central Florida CEI Team, lists some of the many ways drone usage facilitates Construction Engineering & Inspection:
- Progress photos and videos. We can duplicate the same videos/photos on any frequency that is requested (weekly/monthly/daily etc.) to give a visual representation of progress for meetings or in order to provide historical documentation.
- Pre-construction surveys to document existing conditions prior to starting work on projects.
- Access to difficult areas which couldn’t typically be accessed before without the assistance from contractors, ladders, cranes, man-lifts and/or other specialized equipment.
- Accident scene investigations without the endangerment of being in the immediate area of concern.
- More efficient use of time. It’s a real time-saver to be able to verify items without having the need to drive to a specific location. In other words, it may take 15 or 30 minutes in traffic to check something that’s a thousand feet away but is in the opposite traffic direction on an interstate or street. With a drone, it’s just a matter of flying to the area to inspect the item.
- Verify workers and operations from one central location. For example, if we’re inspecting a clover leaf interchange project with multiple operations, the drone can be launched 300′ up and verify all operations from a single vantage point in a matter of minutes whereas it could take several hours to go to each location individually. While these locations may still need to be visited in person however it will allow the operator the choice and sequence of his/her planning.
- Verifying offsite drainage, stormwater runoffs or plumes in adjacent bodies of water which are extremely evident when viewed from the air.
- Bridge inspections. Any part of the bridges (under, over or adjacent to) can be seen using a drone. Also, high-mast lighting systems or tower-type inspections that were not possible before now can be performed, recorded, and photographed in a matter of just minutes.
- Wildlife observation/survey from an extended distance (esp. with zoom capabilities) where there is no disruption to the subject.
It’s also important to note, the drone operator must follow the rules of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 107 (14CFR Part 107) at all times and this includes a visual line-of-sight and or through the use of additional visual observers.
All in all, drones have several uses that not only improve the efficiency and breadth of our work, but also provide reduced safety risks to our inspectors. We can only imagine the variety of additional uses that these technologies will have as innovative capabilities are further developed over time!