The Power of 4D Drone Mapping in Construction
Updated: May 7
There is a revolution happening in the construction industry and that revolution is the use of drones and digital twins!
Drones have been around for quite some time now, initially used for photography and film, it has become apparent, with the advances in technology, that the construction industry can benefit hugely from the use of drone technology.
The construction industry has the opportunity to leapfrog other industries when it comes to not only the use of drones but technology like AI and advanced robotics.
Many use cases and applications have come onto the scene to help cut costs dramatically and help win more business.
So where does 4D drone mapping fit in?
In this post, we will be looking at where 4D sits in the process and some examples of suitable 4D drone mapping use cases.
Use-case 1. Stockpile Measurements
Stockpile measurements have always been something of a bind for surveyors and traditionally required a surveyor to be on-site to acquire those measurements.
With the use of drone technology, this can now be easily achieved with a single drone flight!
One flight can now achieve what other laser scanning equipment isn't able to, with one targeted flight you are now able to measure a stockpile with ease. Not to mention, reducing the overall cost for site surveys allowing more frequent surveys.
Use-case 2. Facade Monitoring
Building regulations are constantly changing, especially with the advent of the Building Safety Act 2022 in the UK and similar regulations being introduced in Florida, known as the SB4D.
With these regulations now in force, it's more important than ever to document all construction steps, this is where drones can play a vital role.
Drones are a cost-effective method of collating that data and that's especially the case when it comes to documenting facade installations.
💡 This altogether helps in paving the future of the 'golden thread' where all construction steps are documented appropriately and within regulation.
Enter 4D Drone Mapping
So where does 4D fit in? Well, there is only one thing that is constant during construction and that is change.
The job site in question is subject to constant change, not only through the build process but also post handover.
By using drones not only can you create 3D models to better understand the site but over a period of time you can collect multiple models and tie them together in a 4D timeline.
4D models can then be used for multiple purposes:
4D can be used to understand the “change” in stockpile volumes and cross-verify measurement figures obtained from contracted surveyors.
4D can also be used to overlay models and cut through sections to understand how a building is coming together. You can slice and dice a building and “roll back” the model to look at the steel frame before other materials were added.
Image: Designing Buildings
We like to think of 4D as your own personal "Time Machine"
For more in-depth information on 4D please see our post:
What is 4D Drone Mapping and How Does it Work?
So now we have looked at the basics of 4D and its initial benefits we can look at its ongoing benefits when it comes to reporting on findings.
Ultimately, all reality modelling is done to achieve one common objective, all stakeholders are on the same page making data-driven decisions.
4D reporting can be used to automatically create PDF reports showing a detailed chart of how stockpile measurements change over a period of time.
With this information in hand, it is easy to communicate with your team with very little time lost.
The beauty of 4D reporting is that you can utilise reporting with 2D graphs but you also have 3D model timelines that your team can directly access from the PDF report via the built-in links.
For more information on reporting please see our post:
We are living in the age of AI and it’s only natural we talk about how 4D drone data could one day feed into AI.
But how can it help the drone industry?
AI will be able to consume all the data made available to it and let project managers know if their projects are on plan and whether the expected output is to the quality required.
Problem areas will also be automatically flagged and predictions could be made on what actions need to be taken to resolve the issue and keep the project on track, this is known as predictive maintenance and could save a project thousands...just through the use of AI technology!
And this is just the start, the future could see AI interacting with not only aerial equipment but ground equipment too.
Robots, like the Boston Dynamics dog, could monitor ground activity and report that back in a similar fashion to the way drone data is currently collected.
All of this data would actively improve the output and quality of the project
For more information on AI please see our post:
What can AI Offer to the Commercial Drone Industry?
4D drone mapping will bring new dimensions to the drone industry and with the addition of AI we can envisage workflows becoming easier to manage giving project teams more time to concentrate on the job at hand.
Hammer Missions is a software platform that helps drone (UAV) teams work with versatile & high-quality drone data for site surveys and asset inspections. Our goal is to help businesses cut costs and increase ROI by building operational efficiency in their drone programs.
Hammer Hub is a cloud-based platform where drone data can be processed and visualized in a full 4D environment.
If you haven't got a Hammer account yet and would like to try Hammer Missions you can get started with our free trial.
To find out more about using drone data for BIM and digital twins, please contact our team or visit our learning resources or take a look at our project examples.
- Team at Hammer Missions