Lately Building Radar was hiring more and more Hardware Engineers to expand the team of high-end Software Engineers. The new staff was manly working on a new technology to add to Building Radar’s service. Today we announce that we will start a pilot program of automatic construction site detection using drones.

The restrictions of satellite technologies

The disadvantage with satellites is that they can only take pictures from the top. While this works very well to document the progress of construction projects, it is a limitation. For example it is hard to detect the three dimensional texture of every structure. Drones on the other hand can make a 360° picture of every site. This allows them to triangulate buildings and create a computer model of them. In the next step the model gets matched with the satellite picture in our database and the data gets compared. This way we hope to create richer information for our clients.

How the drones work

Our drones are supercharged with high-tech software and state of the art hardware. With their software they are able to fly through the cities on their own. Like a self-driving car, the drone will roam the city autonomously and avoid collisions. When their image algorithms detect a construction site they automatically slow down and take a closer look. They then take pictures and determine the current state of progress. After successful upload to our servers they continue on their way.

The pilot project starts now

At this moment, we finished our internal tests and are happy to announce our free range experiments. The engineers equipped 5 drones and set up the servers. With 5 drones at the beginning, Building Radar wants to have a coverage of Munich in all 8-12 days. They will fly 12 hours every day and come back to our office at the night, where we evaluate the test flight. Depending on the success of the first weeks we quickly want to launch more drones to have new data every week. Later this year we want to expand to more cities.

More data can be grabbed in the near future

The current experiment is only the first stage in a long lasting project. Due to their mobility, the drones can be used for way more demanding tasks. In the future, the drones could also get inside the building to get an accurate view of the sight’s internal structure. Therefore the drone will find missing windows to get into the building and create an accurate internal map. Internal test show that the navigation on those small areas will remain a challenge. Fortunately construction workers wear helmets so possible crashes will not be hurtful.

Current limitations of the drones

Currently the main issue of the drones is cruise velocity. In order to be able to scale to other cities, new engine types are necessary. The most promising of our experimental ones is a hydrogen based dual jet engine for cruise supported by two vertical propellers for accurate navigation. This technology could accelerate the drones to up to 100kmh in this year. The future will show what we can achieve with the drone technology.

The first test flights shall start on April 1st.

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