Last edited 24 Nov 2020

Main author

The Institution of Civil Engineers Institute / association Website

The use of drones in the construction of Crossrail



[edit] Introduction

In recent years, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – also known as drones – has grown rapidly across industry and society. Previously only used by the military, we now see them providing footage at sporting events and concerts, and for films and advertisements. They are used in agriculture to monitor crops and animal herds, and in search and rescue for locating missing people. Many sectors have identified ways to improve their working practices through drone use.

The construction sector is no different. Drones can assist with a range of activities including site inspection, planning and health and safety. The team at Crossrail has worked on a project exploring current and possible future uses of drones in construction.

[edit] Innovate18

Crossrail's innovation programme, Innovate18, hopes to raise the bar in the industry by creating a collaborative culture and bringing in new innovative processes and technology. Innovate18 aims to enhance cooperation between Crossrail's many different contractors, whose common objective is not only the successful delivery a world-class railway, but one delivered safely, efficiently and sustainably.

One of Innovate18's projects is around the use of drones in a construction environment, exploring how they can support field engineers performing site inspections, especially through automating surveys on large sites and on sites with restricted access.

A 'drone team' was put together consisting of media, field engineering, innovation and health and safety professionals. All team members were trained to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) standards for operating UAVs safely and an operations manual and a safe method of working were created.

[edit] How can drones assist with construction practices?

Drones are already in regular use at Crossrail:

Site teams identified other potential uses to be trialled and measured:

[edit] Future uses

There is a lot more scope to investigate as UAV technology is constantly changing. The model of the drone used by Innovate18 is a DJI Inspire 1 which receives regular firmware updates to unlock new features, such as waypoint route flying, 3D modelling, and automatic panorama creation – with many more to come.

The drone team meets regularly to practice skills and investigate possible future uses, such as:

This article originally appeared as How can drones transform construction processes?, published by the Institution of Civil Engineers on 9 November 2015. It was written by William Reddaway, Innovation and Reporting Consultant, Crossrail Ltd.

--The Institution of Civil Engineers

[edit] Find out more

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

Designing Buildings Anywhere

Get the Firefox add-on to access 20,000 definitions direct from any website

Find out more Accept cookies and
don't show me this again