Drones are changing the face of infrastructure

When you think drone, different things might come to mind…
  • A child flying their toy,
  • Aerial mapping and photography,
  • AI killbots created by Skynet (maybe only this one if you’ve been watching Terminator recently).

There is no doubt that drones have a variety of uses! For a site inspection, it is cheaper and safer than commissioning a helicopter or surveillance plane, and drones can be operated from the ground.

More recently, drones have been changing the face of the construction industry in other ways. Out of Google X, an innovative company called WING has emerged, and now does small parcel delivery for Australians in the regions of Canberra and Logan, Queensland.

And while many of the “small parcels” include coffee and sushi (essentials for an Australian tradie!) they also include hardware. This can make a huge difference when it comes to the time and cost of sending someone in a vehicle to the store or simply have drone-delivered tools or materials dropped straight to site.

Large civil infrastructure or mining projects could also benefit from this novel mode of delivery. Should workers be across a stretch of water, or a mining pit, or on the other side of a large camp, the right drone could deliver tools, food, or even emergency medical supplies (coffee may be considered an emergency supply).

The industry is already embracing autonomous vehicles and robotics, so it is easy to imagine drone deliveries in the not-too-distant future. As long as we stay away from AI killbots we should be okay…

With it will come a whole new set of costs and risks for an estimator to review. Weather considerations, safety, operating costs, weight limits, optimum fleet size, flight restrictions, coffee budget… As with any new technology, training and legal considerations will need to be made before incorporating into an organisation’s processes.

Drones will be hovering their way into civil construction estimates. What heights they reach is yet to be seen…