In the construction/engineering industry, drones have been used primarily for inspection purposes, but as technology advanced, drones started serving and supporting more complex operations like generating highly-accurate point cloud data, orthomosaic maps, elevation models, contours and 3D models.
Today, it is not a question of whether this technology works anymore. It’s been proven for almost a decade (since 2014) and has been adopted by the biggest construction companies in the U.S. including multi-national companies like McCarthy and Brasfield & Gorrie. It is now a question of “how can we integrate this technology to improve efficiency” (get things done cheaper, faster, better). As Guam has yet to adopt drones for industrial applications, 2cofly is leading the way to do so.
Drones provide tremendous value throughout the construction process and it provides support or in some cases completely brings a new way of getting things done. Some of the people drones can benefit in the field are project managers, site managers, BIM managers, surveyors, engineers, and even to the every day field workers.
Drone outputs we provide:
Digital Elevation Models (DSM, DTM)
3D point clouds
Stockpile measurements (volume, area, cut/fill)
High-res imagery (photos, videos)
Aeromagnetic surveying (for UXO detection)
Orthomosaic Map (Orthophoto or orthoimagery)
An orthomosaic map is a 2D representation of an area that is corrected from the effects of terrain relief or camera tilt/angle to produce a unified, scaled map. This is created by taking hundreds, if not thousands of overlapping photos that are stitched together.
By georeferencing the map with ground control points, they can be used as map layers in GIS, overlay contours or DEMs, planning and updating all stakeholders, take accurate linear measurements, do as-built vs. as-designed comparison, spot potential hazards, analyze stockpiles, display operations, or for deep analysis.
They serve as a great form of site record-keeping/documentation to go back to, or to settle disputes on whether a work was done or not on a certain day. It also gives you the most up-to-date visualization of the site, rather than looking at a year or more old low-resolution Google Earth representation.
Turnaround time largely depends on the size of the area and the accuracy needed. A 10-acre land with absolute accuracy in mind (incorporating GCPs) can be delivered in 1-2 days including data acquisition and post processing. Smaller areas can be done in a matter of hours.
3D Point Cloud Data
While a traditional method of "topo-ing" a land requires capturing GPS points with a rover every X amount of feet and may yield several hundred points over days or weeks, drones can yield millions of points in one flight. As the drone's GPS data isn't robust, highly visual (high-contrast) ground control points captured with a commercial-grade GPS base & rover are integrated and georeferenced during post processing to tie the map to the Earth.
Each point cloud will contain highly accurate X, Y and Z values. This raw output is used to create final outputs like 3D textured mesh and DEMs (and orthophotos). Drone point clouds, along with the X, Y and Z values, contain RGB values as well.
It is important to note that we are not licensed surveyors and are not providing licensed survey work. A surveyor may need to certify the data depending on your needs.
Raw point cloud (.las, .laz, .ply)
To utilize drone point cloud data, you can import the .las file to AutoDesk Recap and save it as an .rcp file. You can then import the .rcp file to Civil 3D.
Digital Elevation Model (DSM, DTM), Contour lines
With most modern GIS software, you can generate a digital surface model, digital terrain model and contour lines from the point cloud data.
3D Textured Models
We can produce high-resolution 3D models that are interactive and has VR capability. You can see the site from a new perspective and even walk around the site through virtual reality. You can check the current state of the project, make visual inspections and/or annotations remotely. This can be used in daily briefings by the site manager for planning/visualization purposes.
We host all 3D models online for our clients for free for easy access and sharing across all stakeholders, contractors, personnel.
4K Aerial Imagery
Our drones can take high-resolution 4K imagery for visualization, updates, inspection, or even for marketing purposes. This is also a low-cost method of tracking progress.
Does it work?
With any "new" technology, the question everyone has is, "Does it work?"
With the current advancements in drone technology (both in hardware and software), it's not a question of whether it works or not. It's been proven and has been adopted by major construction and engineering firms all around the world, especially the mainland U.S.
Til today, Guam has yet to adopt such a technology. It is now a matter of taking the necessary steps to integrating drone technology to local firms -- understanding and managing expectations and tweaking the workflow to create the greatest level of efficiency gain and increase productivity.
The greatest limitation
Years back, the greatest limitation was the technology itself as it wasn't fully developed and proven. Now it's the ever-growing rules and regulation of the FAA of commercial drone ops as drones are classified as aircrafts.
2cofly has over 2 years of commercial drone operational experience with a 107 remote pilot certification. With over 550+ commercial drone operations under our belt, we have experienced 0 crashes or damages, flown over 3.5million feet, and have a 100% approval rate for Certificate of Authorizations (COA). Our drones are FAA registered and our drone operations are always conducted within the rules and regulations set by the FAA. We hold the most COAs including a blanket area approval for PGUM Class D airspace, AAFB class D airspace and a Daylight waiver.
Drones are not a toy anymore. It has real industrial applications and it will eventually replace or enhance current workflows across many industries in Guam (as it has in the mainland). This will bring tremendous innovation, economy growth, new compelling jobs for the youth and a whole new industry in Guam - the Drone Industry.
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Dong Won Lee
Managing Partner, Drone Operations | 107 Remote Pilot
2cofly, a Pacific UAV company