ConstructionPro Week, Volume: 4 - Issue: 5 - 02/06/2015

In the News: Drones in Construction

Last week’s White House crash episode was the latest event to cast a bad light on drones, but this editor is very bullish on their use in construction. No further editorial here, but let’s look at four media reports on drones in construction from the past week.

Contractor Puts Drone to Work on Latest Residential Development ProjectsPortland Business Journal ( This article and short video follows a local contractor using a quadcopter to inspect a roof of a building instead of bringing in a lift, to survey and analyze progress on a 199-unit mixed-use project currently under construction, and to send the Pennsylvania-located architect high-definition progress photos of the entire site.


Drones Could Keep Watchful Eye on Construction Sites – This article interviews Professor Angela Schoellig of the Institute of Aerospace Studies at the University of Toronto who recently presented a paper discussing the broad range of applications in construction. In addition to better managing construction sites with an image overview and monitoring progress, they can be used for powerline and pipeline inspection, 3D mapping and infrastructure inspection. Sensors mounted on drones can provide structural health monitoring, according to Schoellig. The article also discusses recent rules issued by Transport Canada, including an exemption for a requirement to have a Special Flight Operation Certificate (SFOC) for UAVs under two kilograms and certain operations for UAVs under 25 kilograms.


Coming Soon: More Drone Insurance Options – Correspondent Erin Richey reviews recent insurance options to cover drone use on construction sites. These include endorsements adding drone coverage to commercial general liability (CGL) and CGL umbrella and excess programs. The policies will cover injury and property damage to third parties as well as damage to the drone itself. Some companies will only offer coverage for commercial drones, i.e., where the drone use is by a contracted service licensed to perform the work.


Drones’ Net Job: Construction Work – Citing a January 20, 2015 Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report, Komatsu, the Japanese heavy-equipment manufacturer, will employ U.S.-made drones to scan job sites from the air and send images to computers to build three-dimensional models of the terrain. Komatsu’s unmanned bulldozers and excavators would then use those models to carry out design plans, digging holes and moving earth.


Comments on the WSJ site noted potential issues with unions, noting that Japan faces a potential shortage of construction workers. Security is also cited as an issue, observing that hackers may have a field day gaining control of automated heavy equipment.

Link for the BuilderOnLine article:

Original article by WSJ reporter Jack Nicas can be found here:




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