UAV use in Construction: How long is a trend a trend?

UAVs are increasingly used in Construction

OVER the past few years, the Construction Industry has experienced a period of unprecedented technological growth. As the sector has started to embrace the development of Industry
4.0, more technology originally pitted as trends is becoming more commonplace. Each year, countless articles aim to predict the top trends to take the Construction Industry in the following year. Top of the trends lists for the past few years now has been the Drone (or UAV); begging the question: How long can something be a trend before it’s accepted as conventional?

Once a novel way of taking photos and video footage, UAVs have become popular tools used across multiple industries. The rising popularity has resulted in the publication of legislation covering the safe use of UAVs in the UK. Why have UAVs become so popular outside of the photography and film industries? In the Construction Industry, UAV technology has become popular for a multitude of reasons. Each of these reasons have one unifying factor: Efficiency.The efficiency of UAV technology benefits construction practices before Plant Machinery even breaks ground. Every construction site must be surveyed and mapped before any construction work can start to take place. Previously, this would have been completed using traditional photography equipment and taking measurements manually.


Often, more than one person would be contracted to review a site. With the introduction of UAVs, the need for multiple people to be on site to complete mapping has been eliminated. In addition, the UAV is able to collect and process photo and video data at a faster rate than an individual manually mapping
a site. Some sources suggest that the use of UAVs for surveying and mapping can save companies up to 20x the original costs of these activities. Further to this, UAVs are able to send data directly to software on computers in real time, making them not only cheaper but more time effective.

Some question the benefits of this efficient method by highlighting the fact that UAV’s eliminate the need for man power – thus resulting in less job opportunities in the Construction Industry. However, it
might be argued that the use of UAVs in the Construction Industry creates job opportunities for those with more specialised knowledge of the technology.

Further, the ongoing skills gap currently experienced by the Construction Industry suggests that, in terms of creating career pathways, creating specialised job opportunities is not a negative thing.

While we can answer why UAV technology has been a top ‘trend’ in the Construction Industry for the past few years, it’s important to question whether the trend has passed, leaving UAVs commonplace. To find out more, read the full article in the January issue of Plant Planet here.

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