Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for inspection in construction and building industry

Ibrahim Motawa, Alexandra Kardakou

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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Digital data capture is a key component of Industry 4.0 practices. In the past few decades Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have entered the construction industry to capture site data and to cover topographic as well as different types of inspection matters. Photographs, live video, photogrammetric digital elevation models and 3D point clouds can be generated using different photogrammetry facilities, cameras and lasers attached to either a fixed wing or rotorcraft UAVs. UAVs have the ability to deliver information by monitoring, 3Dmaping, measuring, analysing, as well as recording on-site activities. This paper presents the state of art of UAVs usage in construction and building industry and evaluates their applications by experimental case studies. The challenges of using UAVs and their links to BIM will be also discussed. This study found that visual imaging is currently the most popular use of UAVs on construction sites to ensure integrity of structural inspection, however, 3D models derived from LiDAR and photogrammetry techniques are surpassing more traditional methods as they are still significantly cheaper and faster to use. UAVs is also used to monitor workers on site to identify what resources they need in order to carry out their tasks more efficiently and also for the purposes of their health and safety. Despite the approved efficiency of using UAVs on sites to provide better visualization of the working environment, there are still key issues to be tackled such as: the limited flight time of UAVs and its weight. Structural/site investigations have shown that there are some defects on the use of aerial vehicles, with the most important to be the cost along with the precision of the results which may vary depending on the technologies used. There is further study required into the combination of UAVs derived data and its inclusion into BIM, as barriers remain regarding translatable data platforms. There are also some ethical concerns of surveying workers on site and how to protect their privacy.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2018
EventThe 16th International Operation & Maintenance Conference - Cairo, Egypt
Duration: 18 Nov 201820 Nov 2018


ConferenceThe 16th International Operation & Maintenance Conference
Abbreviated titleOMAINTEC 2018


  • unmanned aerial vehicles
  • construction inspection
  • construction site
  • data capture
  • drones


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