UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), more commonly referred to as drones, have taken off in recent years. When we hear about drones we usually hear about them in the context of the government using them in warfare or surveillance or individuals flying them as a hobby. However, much more practical applications exist. The construction industry could gain a huge value by using UAVs in a few different ways. Uses and Benefits UAVs in construction can be used for photogrammetry. Equipped with cameras and programmed for a flight pattern over a construction site allows UAVs to get a detailed lay of the land, where in the past a crew would be sent.

Photos that include a look into the topography and structures will be ascertained.  The photos and videos can also be used to increase the level and quality of communication from the field and prove real-time updates. These images can then be used to increase the strategic plan to increase efficiency. Monitoring the progress of a site is another valuable use of UAVs. The use of GPS coordinates, sensors, and high definition cameras give detailed information about a job site. UAVs are now able to do inspections and documentation without an inspector being sent to the site. This is especially useful when the site is difficult to navigate or access. Both of these photogrammetry uses can also increase the safety of a site because any job site hazard or violation can be quickly discovered and addressed. Consider the Legal Side The laws around UAVs are changing frequently. The laws we see today likely will not stand by this time next year. Updates are constantly being made due to the nature of this technology. For instance, at one point drones could not fly below 500 feet and that has changed to 400 feet. Fines for not complying with these laws can be in the tens of thousands. To stay up to date on what the current laws are visit: https://www.faa.gov/uas You will have to get a Petition for Exemption under Section 333 from the federal government to start using drones over worksites, or for any other nongovernmental purpose. Commercial uses do not fall under the hobby category, either. There are different regulations. This sounds complicated, but it serves an important purpose. Drones can be used for less than honorable intentions and this step is to ensure the guidelines and rules are followed. For a detailed report on the steps, please visit: https://www.faa.gov/uas/resources/uas_regulations_policy/ After the 333 Petition has been granted, obtaining a COA for each site is the next step. You have to get Certificate of Authorization (COA) to alert the FAA air traffic controllers in the area of your status and allows them to them consider any airspace issues. To learn more please visit: https://oeaaa.faa.gov/oeaaa/external/uas/portal.jsp There is a lot to learn about the use of UAVs in construction. The applications and laws can both get confusing. Coordinating your efforts with a firm that specializes in aviation law could save you a lot of headaches and get your UAVs off the ground quicker. You can also join the AUVSI (Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) to stay up to date on the latest information. For UAVs in construction, they sky’s the limit, so to speak. The use of UAVs will open up opportunities for improvement, efficiency, and creativity for the construction industry. Job sites are being modernized in many ways, and drones are on that list.