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Drones Can Do What!? Exploring Drone Mapping and Use Cases in the Construction Industry

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

One of my favorite discussions with a prospective client is when they are introduced to the technical capabilities of drones. Often they expect to talk about aerial images and videos, which are compelling in their own right, but once I dive into the capabilities, eyes light up, gears start turning, and it's not uncommon to hear a "wow!".

When it comes to the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) Industries, precision is paramount. Accurate and up-to-date data is crucial for making informed decisions, ensuring safety, and optimizing resource allocation. Drones equipped with advanced sensors and cameras have proven to be game-changers in mapping and data acquisition. When coordinated with site control and survey, the data can become an authoritative source for Architects, Engineers, and the entire project team.

In this blog series "Drones Can Do What!?" We will take a deep dive into the various benefits drones provide to the AEC Industry. Below we start by summarize just a few of the incredible capabilities focused on construction.


  1. Site Mapping: Drones can quickly and efficiently map a construction site from various angles, capturing high-resolution images and creating precise 2D/3D maps & models in a matter of hours. This brings the entire site into one comprehensive view with essential data for site analysis, planning, measuring, and creating as-built documentation.

  1. Topographic Mapping: Drones can create highly accurate topographic maps, providing detailed elevation and terrain information. This data helps construction teams understand the lay of the land, identify potential challenges, aid in logistics, and optimize grading and drainage plans.

  1. Volume Calculations: Drones can calculate stockpile and grade volumes with remarkable precision. This capability is invaluable for estimating quantities, tracking material usage, determining placement, managing inventory, and ensuring excavation and fill operations are on track.

  1. Progress Monitoring: Construction progress can be monitored with ease using drones. Creating regular aerial maps, enable project teams to compare as-planned versus as-built conditions, identify issues, delays or discrepancies, audit productivity, and make necessary adjustments. These updates also offer amazing visuals and data for owners and other stakeholders to engage with the project in a way no other platform can provide.

  1. Environmental Impact Assessment: Drones can capture environmental data, such as vegetation, water bodies, and wildlife habitats, aiding in assessing and mitigating the environmental impact of construction projects.

Use Cases in Construction

Now that we've seen a few examples of how drones excel in mapping, let's delve into some compelling use cases for drones in the construction industry:

  1. Safety Inspections: Drones can access hard-to-reach or hazardous areas, allowing for safer and more frequent inspections of structures, roofs, and other critical components. This reduces the risk to personnel and improves overall safety.

  2. Quality Control: Aerial imagery and data can be used for quality control inspections with a unique vantage point. Construction teams can spot defects or deviations from design specifications early in the process.

  3. As-Build Documentation: Drones capture as-built conditions throughout the project lifecycle. This is particularly useful during excavation, underground infrastructure, and civil phases of a project. Quickly and accurately capturing as-built conditions can keep a project on pace while documenting critical information. This data can be reliably referenced throughout the project and a critical piece of O&M documentation.

  4. Site Security: Drones equipped with cameras and sensors can serve as security tools, providing real-time feedback into security measures including perimeter fencing on large projects.

  5. Inventory Management: Drones help in managing construction materials and equipment. They can conduct regular inventory checks, reducing the risk of shortages or overstocking.

  6. Production Tracking: With regular flights, productivity can be measured by comparing quantities of placed work over time. This can be used to audit progress and plot against critical milestones.

  7. Marketing and Stakeholder Communication: Aerial photos, videos, maps, and 3D models captured by drones are not only practical but also visually stunning. They can be used for marketing purposes, stakeholder communication, and progress updates, enhancing project visibility.

  8. Emergency Response: In the unfortunate event of accidents or natural disasters, drones can quickly assess damage and provide vital information to first responders, aiding in rescue and recovery efforts.

Drones have unlocked a world of possibilities in the construction industry. Their ability to provide accurate, real-time data, and their diverse range of applications make them indispensable tools for construction teams. By harnessing the power of drones, construction projects can become more efficient, safer, and more cost-effective. As technology continues to advance, we can only expect more innovative uses for drones in the construction industry.

Stay tuned for our next post, which will summarize capabilities and benefits for Architects and Engineers.

If you want to find out more, please contact Aerial Ethos. We would love to talk to you about your project!


Mike Liggett

Owner, Aerial Ethos


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