As we start a new year, it’s a perfect time to look ahead and see what type of new developments are on the horizon in the construction industry. In this post, we’re going to look at drones and how they’re changing the way we do business in some very interesting ways.

In every area of life, technology is taking us to new heights and in the case of drones, that is very literally true. They’re growing in popularity so rapidly that some have even abandoned the classic “bird’s-eye view” expression and replaced it with “drone’s-eye view”.

Innovators in the construction industry are finding that drones and UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) can play a vital role in their work. Whether they’re used for surveying, to show clients and potential clients an aerial overview of completed projects, to monitor job sites to ensure safe practices or to inspect structures, drones have the potential to become an increasingly important a tool to the industry.

For builders, the case for return on investment is straightforward. Drones are cheaper to fly than manned aircraft and faster than human surveyors, and they collect data far more frequently than either, letting construction workers track a site’s progress with a degree of accuracy previously unknown in the industry. With the right computing tools, builders can turn sensor data into 3D structural models, topographical maps, and volumetric measurements (useful for monitoring stockpiles of costly resources like sand and gravel).

Drones have been used in many situations to keep a record of the linear foot of material being installed and to maintain a record of the equipment being used in conjunction with GPS tools. Collectively, that intelligence allows construction companies to more efficiently deploy resources around a job site, minimize potential issues, trim costs, and limit delays.

In the future, drones will take on even more integral tasks involved in large projects. Contractors who rely on drones will be able to make much more ambitious bids and complete work on time.

In a growing number of cases, the adoption of drones is resulting in a significant increase in security efficiency as well. Whether the drones are used to maintain the safety of employees or to protect the job site from theft or vandalism, they are steadily seeing greater implementation in the construction industry. They can transmit real-time data on safety violations or situations that might have a negative impact during the construction process. In addition, they can create an around-the-clock, real-time monitoring system – something that has already been adopted by many construction companies.

Most models used by construction companies come in under the 4.4-pound weight threshold and 400-foot travel radius required to be considered “Hobby Class.” Drones that meet those criteria are not subject to stringent regulations.

The sky is literally the limit for data-capturing drones as software engineers continue to develop new ways to leverage the data to produce ever more tangible returns on investment. The future is definitely looking up.