Keeping up with the drone revolution

Simplify, simplify. Simplification is the best way to reduce costs, become most efficient, and – in the case of mobile GIS software paired with drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – possibly even more accurate.

Brady Woodard, one of Moore’s construction engineers, had the opportunity to attend the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) conference in San Diego last week. There, Brady was able to speak with developers of ArcPad, see developing software and experiment with Trimble devices. The conference attracted 16,000 people from 16 different countries.

Why so popular?

Predictions for the global UAV market say an annual growth rate of over 5 percent is expected over the next 10 years. North America and Europe are expected to be the largest UAV markets, with a cumulative market share of more than 67 percent.

Brady knows regulations on the drone/UAV market have relaxed over the past few years, which will make it easier for his team to collect data when Moore invests more heavily in drone technology.

Brady works closely with Moore’s GIS department, and attends the conference yearly to stay on top of the latest technology in the field. He says this year’s conference showed him Moore is positioned well for the move to drone technology. The company’s use of mobile GIS technology will transition us to the next step, data collection with drones. Combining these geo-referencing tools, our company could collect data on elevations, contours and qualities/volumes.

As an example, Brady points to one of Moore’s current projects, the Upper Maple River Dam. There’s a lot of material being built, shifted, flown in and pre-constructed, and lots of earth and fill is being brought to the site daily. Currently, with detailed surveying and hand calculations, the crews can determine the volume of materials being pushed to the site. The newer technology would simplify their current system and provide more immediate estimates, giving project managers more continual data that can be stored and used to adjust the timeline. This allows us to provide clients with faster preliminary project cost estimates and timelines. He also says the technology would help simplify inspections when access is hindered.

Moore will continue to monitor technological and regulatory developments to stay on top of emerging trends in drone use.