3 Reasons Why You Should Use Drones for Infrastructure Management

It’s no secret that infrastructure powers business.

Roads, bridges, railways, shipping centers, and airports are vital to commerce. But building this infrastructure is costly, and so is the maintenance.

In fact, estimates place global infrastructure investment for 2016 – 2040 at $94 trillion – an average of $3.7 trillion per year. This level of investment requires an increase in GDP from 3% to 3.5%.

It’s a considerable commitment of resources – but a necessary one.

One of the biggest challenges facing infrastructure management is that structures typically require more upkeep and monitoring as they age. This means more inspections, repairs, renovations, and even rebuilds to meet new standards.

Some countries are facing the need for a significant overhaul. In the United States, for example, there are over 617,000 bridges, and 42% are at least 50 years old. Even more alarming is that 7.5% are considered to be structurally deficient.

The problem is that current resources for management are strained. And with millions of miles of infrastructure worldwide, financing is a major challenge.

Drones are one of the few resources ready to take on this challenge today. UAV technology is ideally suited to address your needs for an effective, cost-efficient tool.

Drones offer you a wide variety of benefits, but three stand ahead of the rest: artificial intelligence (AI) powered 3D modeling, thermal cameras, and keeping personnel safe.

AI 3D Modeling With Drones Speeds Up Infrastructure Management

Using advanced algorithms and an array of sensors, UAVs now have the power to autonomously inspect structures such as buildings, roads, and bridges.

Before drones, these inspections were only accomplished  ground-based survey teams. The time required to survey a bridge, for example, could take as long as several days.

But now, UAV technology is so reliable that some states even allow pilots to fly their drones beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS).

The autonomous flight capabilities of UAVs allow for quick completion of the task. In fact, some drones are capable of completing bridge inspections 75% faster than survey teams.

The high-resolution images captured by drones produces survey-level accuracy and create digital twins. These 3D models are so precise that engineers and infrastructure specialists can remotely assess what potential repairs are needed.

In real-time, you can identify and act on the information presented by drones.

Drones Provide Better Thermal Inspection Options

Another excellent tool for infrastructure management is thermal cameras.

These special optics are capable of providing you with valuable temperature data. Thermal images, particularly radiometric images, provide you with a great deal of information. They identify everything from insulation deficiencies to stressed areas present in metal and concrete.

The problem with handheld thermal cameras is that people must slowly move around a structure to collect the data. It’s just not practical for ground-based crews to survey an entire structure with a handheld device.

For this reason, they’re forced to spot-check areas, leaving much of the structure unanalyzed.

But drones equipped with thermal cameras quickly survey an entire bridge or building with little effort.

Once you’ve collected the temperature data, you can review it later for a complete understanding of temperature variations. From there, you’ll know what it says about the structure’s integrity.

Drones Improve the Safety of Infrastructure Management

Maybe the most important reason you should use drones for infrastructure management is to protect the safety of your employees.

Falls are one of the top causes of worker injury and death around the world. Manual inspection of bridges, for example, requires people to either hang over the side of the structure with ropes, or use heavy equipment, such as cherry pickers.

Even with safety harnesses and regular inspections, accidents happen.

During the 2019 work year, the United States lost over 5,000 people to work-related injuries. But drones quickly complete an inspection without ever placing a human in harm’s way.

When you add the fact that drones produce more accurate data, there is no reason to put a person where a drone can go.

Bringing It Together

There needs to be a considerable effort to address infrastructure deficiencies over the next few decades. The global effort will be nothing short of gargantuan.

Thankfully, drones already make infrastructure management much easier than manual methods of the past.

With technological advances such as AI, 3D modeling, and thermal imaging – coupled with creating a safer work environment – it’s easy to see why it’s time for you to start using drones.

So, which drone is right for you? And, how do you get started? Do you hire out or bring your drone program in-house?

At Consortiq, we help you find a better way with drones, from consultation and program implementation to actually doing the work for you.

Ready to learn more? Just complete the form below to schedule a risk-free consultation!

Picture of David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

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