They used to be the stuff of science fiction but flying drones are rapidly emerging as a staple tool of the property and construction industries.
In the UK, Juniper Research forecasts that drone sales are expected to more than double from 2015 to 2016, and the trend here is similar.
The real estate industry has been one of the early adopters of the flying robots with agents using the new technology to create aerial photographs and videos that make their listings stand out from the crowd in a competitive marketplace.
Although aerial imagery is the primary real estate drone application, there are many other areas where they are adding value for developers.
Aerial Photography & Videography: Drones deliver a much richer view of a property than possible from ground based photography alone. But there is another thing they can do that is really cool for developers – they can fly up and take photos that illustrate what views might look like from upper floors and windows of a tower before it has even been built!
Mapping & Surveying: They have reduced the cost and complexity of performing mapping and surveying activities, this has resulted in more uptake in capturing and using mapping and survey data. Property owners and developers now have access to up to the minute terrain maps, boundary lines, building point clouds and more.
Asset Inspection: They offer the perfect platform to inspect hard to reach areas that would ordinarily be difficult, or risky to reach in person. Applications include roof inspections, chimney inspections, and more. Post storm damage assessment has never been easier or quicker.
UK construction giant Balfour Beatty is even assessing whether drones would be useful for building.
Balfour Beatty CIO Danny Reeves said he had seen a video of drones building walls. “They just fly around and build a wall,” he said.
“That takes a lot of the human error and human safety issues out. Those are technologies we’re quite keen to get an understanding of," Mr Reeves said.
Mapping & Surveying: Drones are providing access to aerial survey data at an unprecedented level. Data is collected faster, cheaper and more safely than ever before as a result the construction industry is benefiting from better decision making based upon more accurate, real time data.
Promotional content: Drones can capture aerial video only previously possible at much higher cost and risk. The construction industry is capitalising on this new access to aerial video to create for example, more immersive show reels for prospective clients.
Volume calculations: the more readily available aerial data collected by drones can be put to good use on the construction site calculating extraction and fill in volumes.
Site surveillance: monitoring large construction sites can be challenging, Drones are now complementing existing solutions acting as the eye in the sky for ground teams.
Progress monitoring: Drones offer the ability to monitor construction progress from unique angles providing a greater sense of scale and environment than possible from ground based photography alone.
Asset inspection: through the use of Drones construction site ground teams are able to quickly get a close up view of hard to reach areas more safely and at a lower cost. This provides more accurate up to the minute inspection data, reducing costly downtime.
With such a broad range of potential uses, it is clear that drones are here to stay.