With nearly 7 million workers employed by more than 733,000 agencies, the US construction industry is valued at around $1.4 trillion. Because of COVID19, projects were delayed, materials like lumber became difficult to access, and employment rates dropped. However, projectors expect the construction industry to make a full rebound. Throughout this trying time, ongoing construction projects have had access to new technologies that have made working under the circumstances presented by COVID19 possible.
Drone technology has seen a major uptick in use over the last year. In a 2019 report conducted by Allied Market Research, findings show that the global drone construction market was then valued at $4.8 million and expected to exceed $11.9 million by 2027. With such a high demand for drones in the construction industry, drone manufacturers are now designing systems specifically tailored for construction markets.
For example, the updated Mavic Air 2, released in April of 2020 by drone giant DJI. This drone comes equipped with an ultra HD camera that allows construction workers to clearly envision work sites. As stated on DJI’s website, “The 48MP camera supports a high megapixel count that allows for vivid details even when you zoom in on an image.” This means that when used to inspect structural elements, precise details can be observed while workers remain safely on the ground. The Mavic Air 2 is also small enough that it can be easily navigated through complex construction sites, including indoors. But this is only one way drones are used in construction.
Other larger drones can be used to transport materials around a site. These larger drones can also be outfitted with sensors and mapping tools that make it possible for construction sites to be planned. As materials need to be left on site during off hours, they tend to be a large target for theft. Drones can efficiently and inexpensively deter would be thieves and document any thefts that occur. And as construction sites always present an element of risk to injury, drones help keep workers safe. Not only can drones be used to visually inspect a worksite of safety concerns, but they can completely carry out some of the most dangerous jobs needed on a site.
But drones aren’t only being used to assist in construction projects. In 2014, Coca-Cola partnered up with the Singapore Kindness Movement to say thank you to the thousands of construction workers, known as Singapore’s invisible people, tirelessly working to build the nation’s physical infrastructure. The movement went through the community and collected messages of gratitude for construction workers. The messages thanked the workers for everything they do and expressed how much they are appreciated. Pictures of the messages and the senders were then attached to a can of Coke, loaded into a parcel case, and attached to a drone. The drones delivered the packages to a team of more than 2,000 construction workers on a high rise. “We are very, very happy,” said one of the recipients of the gratitude messages, “because we thinking there’s still somebody thinking about us.”
In a more recent attempt to bring joy to a team of construction workers, a man from Independence, Iowa used his drone to brighten the day. With the help of the police officer managing the traffic nearby, the man came up with a humorous note to send to the workers on a roof across the street. Using two bungee cords, the man suspended the quickly written note from the drone and flew it over to the crew on the roof. One of the workers grabbed the note, read it aloud, and immediately everyone began to laugh and wave to the drone operator and police officer. The note simply said, “We’ve been trying to reach you about your car’s extended warranty.” Whether it is to bring cheer and joy to construction workers or to ensure that the industry has the means to safely operate and grow, drones will continue to have a strong presence in the construction industry.