by PETER CAULFIELD
It seems new uses for drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), are being found in the construction industry every day. In road building, one of the most recent applications is the measurement of material volume.
For example, drones can be used to calculate the volume of road excavations and the amount of material in sand and gravel pits.“The traditional method of open pit volumetrics required a surveyor on the ground who would measure elevation every five to 10 feet on each pile,” said Chris Cambon, a UAV instructor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) in Burnaby. “The process could take a whole day on a large gravel pit. A drone can accomplish this task much more accurately and faster, usually in 30 minutes or less.”
The modern way to measure volume using a drone begins with the operator doing a visual survey of the site to determine if there are any potential safety problems.
Next, ground station software creates a mission plan by laying a grid of waypoints (co-ordinates that identify a point in physical space) over the area that the software is going to analyze.
“The drone, which in most cases is fixed wing, is then launched by hand or by catapult,” said Cambon.