Skanska trialled drone technology for survey work on its Mindenhurst development in Surrey for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), where it is preparing the old Princess Royal Barracks in Deepcut for housing.
Its supplier was Chichester-based Seesai (which styles itself “sees.ai”), whose approach is to pilot its drones not from on site but from a remote central control centre – in this case, 50 miles away.
All drones are, by definition, remote-controlled, but these are very remote controlled.
During the flight, the drone captured video and imagery of structural details and relayed this to the construction company. The aim of the test was to prove the value of beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) technology to reduce costs.
Skanska is also involved in trials of the technology on the HS2 London tunnels main works contract through the Skanska Costain Strabag joint venture.
According to Seesai, the trials “pave the way for a future where remotely operated drones are flown routinely on industrial sites around the UK”.
Seesai chief executive John McKenna, a former structural engineer with Arup, 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.”
Skanska development manager Peter Cater said: “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: Seesai 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.”