02 Jun Skanska tests advanced drone system for remote inspection and monitoring
The use of remotely operated drones in congested areas such as industrial sites took a leap forward this week when construction industry giant, Skanska, tested an advanced drone system live on site at its development in Mindenhurst, Surrey.
In one of the first tests of its kind in the UK, a pilot based in a central control room fifty miles away flew a highly-automated drone remotely around the site, using technology similar to autonomous cars. During the flight, the drone captured video and imagery of structural details. The aim of the test was to prove the value of Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) technology to:
- Drive down cost of use, by reducing man-hours and travel, making everyday tasks, delivered by drone, cost effective.
- Provide real-time data, enabling difficult to access snagging and inspection tasks, by the right people, from remote locations.
- Protect people’s health, safety and wellbeing by removing the need to attend a live construction site.
- Reduce the number of vehicles travelling to sites, which means a reduction in the amount of carbon produced.
The technology was developed by sees.ai, a UK start-up which has gained UK-first approval by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to trial a concept for routine BVLOS operations in closed industrial and urban areas. The intention is, once safety and efficacy of the system has been proved, to deploy it at enterprise scale across UK infrastructure, energy networks, roads, railways and the emergency services.
sees.ai was recently awarded funding through UKRI’s Future Flight Challenge (part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund), to expand its trials with commercial partners such as HS2, Network Rail, Vodafone, Sellafield Ltd and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.
sees.ai CEO, John McKenna said:
“Congested area operations are very challenging, but the potential reward for unlocking these types of mission in terms of public health & safety, cost efficiency and environmental impact is huge. The successful trials undertaken with Skanska this week are a major step forward in demonstrating the value of Beyond Visual Line of Sight drone technology. We are excited by the results of the trial and what they signal about the acceleration towards a future where drones fly autonomously at scale inside our industrial sites, suburbs and cities.”
Peter Cater, Development Manager, Skanska added:
We were invited to carry out these trials because of our use and knowledge of drone capability and we were very excited to be the first company in the construction industry to do this. The trials have benefited everyone involved: sees.ai get to test their equipment and remote use of the drones and we get access to accurate, real-time data on our construction activities which benefits us and our customer, DIO.
“Projects like this – at the forefront of innovation – go to show what an exciting industry construction is to be involved in. We are always looking for innovative ways of working, ways to be more sustainable so we can find better solutions for our customers. These trials are just one small part of our digital transformation journey.”
– Ends –