UAVs, or drone technology, are positively impacting land development by improving surveys, modeling and forecasting, market research, construction, and asset management.
Dustin Price / Operations Manager / Landpoint
Drone technology is changing the construction industry for the better. Drones have become an excellent tool for land developers who want to:
Improve the accuracy of site surveys
- Facilitate better project modeling and forecasting
- Impact and inform market, site, and terrain research
- Increase the efficiencies of the construction process
- Aid post-construction asset management
Adding aerial surveys created with drone technology provides a wider view with a different perspective for land developers. It also helps when the project is complete and they’re ready to either sell or begin construction.
How it Works
Drones have quickly become an essential tool for land surveyors, with a variety of surveying-specific UAVs now available from manufacturers such as senseFly and Aibotix. Once on-site, a surveyor can create a flight plan and then launch the drone. From there, the UAV collects data and lands so that the information can then be uploaded. This data is then processed into the desired deliverable.
Software suites such as DroneDeploy and Pix4D can create incredibly accurate 3D computer models. These models allow developers an accurate digital image of a design concept. It’s the best and most cost effective way for land developers to tweak their ideas and make changes – well before construction actually starts.
UAV applications for land surveying
Surveyors use UAVs to scan and plot large landmasses and infrastructures. Since drones can go places more quickly and with less safety risk, these flying taskmasters have improved the survey process tremendously. Drones are able to access heights, traverse rough terrain, and squeeze into tight spots. There’s also minimal disruption to existing infrastructures, which may be populated at the time of the survey.
Some of the more “typical” applications that drones can be utilized for during a land development project include:
- Capturing panoramic images for marketing/communications
- Earthwork volume calculations
- Elevation mapping
- Environmental analysis
- Surface assessment for drainage modeling
- High altitude views of tall buildings
Using drones to track infrastructure progress
While there are a number of different applications for using UAVs for land development projects, there is one area in which they particularly excel. During land development, the terrain can change daily. In order for project managers to accurately gauge their progress, they need to be able to monitor these changes. Instead of sending out ground survey teams every few days, they can simply have a drone make a quick fly-by and collect the data to keep them informed of the project’s progress.
Often times, it only takes a drone 20 to 30 minutes to scan an area. This allows project managers to always have up-to-date information, helping them to make better decisions and ultimately run their project more effectively. This data also makes it easy for project managers to communicate their progress to their clients and investors.
It’s been said that to do the job well, you need the right tools. UAV technology is quickly becoming the right tool for multiple industries, from large-scale residential development to industrial complexes. Drone technology is a low cost/high yield asset that is making it increasingly attractive to ROI-conscious developers who want to minimize risk while maximizing profits.