How Drones are Impacting Civil Engineering

The advances in drone technology over the last few years have modified how we utilize them. Drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are no longer just considered high-tech toys. The benefits of these innovations are particularly prevalent in the civil engineering field.  

There are numerous advantages to using drones on site. Benefits include the simplicity of collecting and sharing data, the improvement of health and safety to the engineer in the field, and perhaps the most advantageous utility is the improvement to surveying. Drones simplify the surveying process both by increasing the accuracy and decreasing the complications over large areas.

A drone survey captures aerial data by using downward-facing sensors. During a survey the sensors, or cameras, photograph the land several times from multiple angles. Each image is then tagged with coordinates. In a manned aircraft, or with satellite imagery, the flight would take place at a higher altitude resulting in slower data retention. These options are more expensive and dependent on atmospheric conditions such as clear skies. 

Compared to traditional topographic surveying, which is a slow and labor-intensive process, the drone is incredibly beneficial. Traditional topographic surveying required manual collection of multiple GPS points which, depending on the size of the area, could easily include several hundred points. The drone expedites this process.

If you are interested in the benefits of drones in engineering and would like to learn more you should check out NJSPE’s continuing education course “DRONES IN ENGINEERING” . The course will review the ways drones are being used in the construction industry, mainly in the engineering and surveying fields. The course will show examples of how drones are being utilized in various different situations to assist Engineers. You will learn the safety benefits of using drones in compromising health situations. You will learn some of the legal requirements for use of drones, applications of drones for specific Engineers needs, benefits of using drones, and you will see some of what the future can hold for drone technology in the engineering field.

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