The first nations in the world to research and develop the use of drones are the USA, Britain, Austria, Russia, and Israel. The first drone was launched in Austria in 1849 in which the drone composed of balloon-lifted explosives and a camera which was used to survey over the land. As denoted with kardars, the pioneers of drone creation are Charles Kettering who worked in collaboration with Robert Millikan, Oliver Wright, and Elmer Sperry to create an aircraft drone referred to as ‘Kettering Bug.’ It was the first structure of UAV which used simple devices such as the barometer as a height and position sensors while the distance traveled was measured using its engine’s revolutions. All along, the primary structures of the ancient drones have been developed to suit its various uses which range from military activities, farming, wildlife conservation, and fisheries. As highlighted with, ….the majority of UAV application has been on military operations until recently when stakeholders in building and construction identified a gap in their field to which the drones features are required to boost environmental health and safety standards. This has led to the adoption of technological innovation to carry out significant activities such as site planning, site monitoring, and violation detection in enhancing environmental health and safety.
Structure of Drones
Drones are made up of two systems; the movement system and the control system.
The movement system
It includes the frame, engine and propeller, and power supply. The structure of the drone is usually designed with maximum lightweight materials to enhance its buoyancy in air. Usually, drones with many arms are more stable than those with fewer arms which eventually determine the application range of the drone. The construction drone usually has four arms and four motors referred to as quadrocopters. Such a frame system makes them stable to be balanced in extreme environments.
The engine and propeller system of the UAVs is a significant component to enhance the propulsion of the device, its load carrying capacity and intern its durability. Propellers have various roles such as improving forward movement and balance when changing direction in the air. For the construction drone, the presence of small propellers on each of the four arms enhances its capacity to lift heavy loads while maintaining the equilibrium. Equally, drones are made of brush engines which improve their durability, efficiency and reduce parts wearing.
Since the UAV move in the air, they require a power supply unit to power the motors to enhance its movement. A major setback of all drones is that they use a battery power supply that lasts for only 15 minutes to which it then lands to the ground. The batteries can be renewable cells which are rechargeable and non-renewable which are disposed of after use. In most instances, the drones use lithium cells which are useful and durable compared to other existing cells.
The control system
The system is responsible for every movement and navigation of the drone whether moving forward, up, down, rotating and its reaction to the forces in the air. The drone is fitted with various sensors of different speed calculation and algorithms to fit their functions. Some of the control systems include the proximity camera and anti-collision element in the system, and the flight controller which regulates all movements in the device, Electric speed controller which governs the speed of the device. Similarly, the device has control engines for high performance and reducing incidences of failure. The drone power system has the battery eliminator, which maintains a constant power supply of 5V and 2A, the best working condition for the device. The communication of the invention and the ground operator are achieved through the programming card designed with the Android operating system. The operating system does not only aid in the device control but also enhance the real-time communication of data. The device can be connected to smartphones and computer using Bluetooth and wifi connection r=to enhance its service provision.
Factor that led to the introduction of Drones in Building and construction
Significantly reduce the number of accidents
Building and construction sector plays a significant role in the economic development of any nation as it employees a substantial amount of population in both skilled and unskilled jobs. Nevertheless, the number of accidents and injuries experiences in the field is greatly alarming. The industry accounts for the most significant percentage of industrial accidents reported in the world. For example in the US, construction accidents stand at 25% a similar number published in the UK. Equally, in Japan and Ireland, the building and construction accidents account 40% and 50% of industrial accidents. To curb the incidences, a formal algorithm was developed for hazard identification, finding the location of the hazard, and suggesting a plan for the hazard minimization and enhanced the workers’ safety. Therefore, the Drones found an opportunity in the provision of data for the site planning, and identification of areas that are prone to workplace accidents. As a result, the device has dramatically reduced the number of accidents experienced in the workplace.
Source real-time surveillance of accident causes.
Some of the fatalities in a workplace are caused by struck-by accidents in which a worker in a site is hit with an unseen bloom vehicle or heavy construction equipment from high heights. workplace fatalities are known to result from lack of a clear view of backing objects in the blind spot. It’s in mitigation of such accidents in which drones find their purpose especially by monitoring the building; identifying and removing blind spots around heavy building materials. A 3D laser fitted on the drone as such it becomes a blind spot measuring tool to reduce the struck-by accidents which cost the industry.
UAV are reliable and time efficient
Compared to manual surveillance of a construction site, drones are reliable in monitoring since it can be conducted at daytime and night hours as long as it’s programmed to take oversight after a given duration. Also, the UAV aid in the provision of video analysis data against accidents obtained from cameras. The data for analysis is collected by either monitoring the objects or tracking the workers’ location. By doing so, the workers exposed to potential unseen hazards are given an early warning such that they can avoid the accident situations. The development of the wireless communication technology fitted on the system has greatly enhanced the performance of the device as workers are provided with gadgets to inform them; as such, warnings are communicated early enough. If the monitoring were to be done manually, then all these operations would require considerable time to achieve the safety of all workers. Indeed, the development of drones’ application in the sector would substantially boost the construction site safety.
Drones help in the reduction of projects non-compliance delays and costs
As denoted with Ridell (2017), for any construction company, time, costs and quality are significant aspects that need to be effectively managed. Often, a person manages what they can measure and therefore there is a need to add effort in the measure of the timescale to which a project might take. This involves the use of aerial photographs and videos from drones to improve the quantity and quality of the date received with the construction company that is used for the site planning to enhance the results. Equally, the drone’s aerial videos might help in reduction of the workplace accidental deaths and injuries by sending an early warning signal to the site management and workers. Moreover, the drones can offer high-quality data, and in real time, as such, it has expanded its use in construction since managers have the fastest way having a bird’s view of operations in the site. In turn, the company can save financial costs for insurance cover and compensation to the accident victims.
Drones help in the big visual data analysis and presentation
With the advancement of the internet, it’s now possible for drone vendors to connect their system with analytical devices that help in the interpretation of large volumes of date, creation of 3D models for construction, design analytics, and predictive analysis tools. The services are not only significant to large projects but also for multiple stakeholders that want to come together to work on a similar project. After visual data analysis and presentation in 3D models, the public perception is significantly managed to ensure that they have positive attitudes towards the project after completion. The drone’s data gives meaning and value to stakeholders in building and construction since it provides data in a fast and comprehensive way by disseminating actual information through connection network to designated parties. The data accessibility has been achieved in the drone’s communication system through a smart partnership with other components such as cloud base systems, software providers, operating system hosts, mobile technologies and site locations. The aspect of the drone system has critically improved the application of technology in building and construction.
Application of UAVs in Site Health and Safety Monitoring
With high-quality images and videos captured or live recorded from drones’ cameras, the construction companies are assured of several valuable benefits in health and safety monitoring compared to traditional methods of site surveillance. The following are some of the benefits and capabilities which a building and construction company obtains from the use of the UAVs
Inspection and surveys
The health and safety standards are a necessity for the decisive run of a construction site. For instance, drones find their application in such a place since they offer a large field of view in a bird’s eye perspective. Equally, the drones help in close-up surveying of tall buildings, great depths, and other inaccessible points of a site as such the construction firms ensure that all operations are done in accordance to the stipulated occupational health and safety regulations. Similarly, the use of drones is advantageous compared to the previous methods of inspection especially the use of aircraft and helicopters. The drones are cheap since the acquisition capital is less compared to that required to hire helicopters to conduct surveillance at the place until the entire operation is completed. Also, drones are weather tolerant as they can be used extreme weather conditions such as during rainy and snowy days which are limited to aircraft. As such, the drones help to save the time and expense required to survey over a construction site. Manual inspections of operations in a construction site can never be replaced completely; hence, the drones are an additional advantage in the projection of inspectors. It aids in keeping the project on track by offering timely inspection for progress from the pre-operational stage to completion.
In most instances, projects are supposed to be carried with full compliance of the stipulated health and safety standards. Nevertheless, some unintentional infringements occur which places the public and site workers at the operational risks. The UAVs images and videos can help in the site planning from pre-operational stage to completion although they cannot offer the real-time tracking of employees. But with the live recording capability of the drone system, the site manager can deterrent the workplace blind spots, maintain operations at high standards and maintain a safe working environment for all workers. The drones have significantly reduced the number of workplace accidents, and in the event it occurs, it’s easy to track the events that led to the situation and align anticipation measure against the repeated incidents. Finally, some work[place environments are hazardous to humans as they might contain pollutants such as asbestos oxide. Therefore such places need a drone to conduct monitoring without necessarily placing the workers as the risk. A study conducted with Greisari and Esmaeili denotes that safety managers prefer the drones for safe inspection side the AUVs since the tilt and pan feature of the camera allows the device to view spots in all axes of motion beyond the human eye potentialities.
Drones are important to building and construction in enhancing the health and safety of workers not only during the operational stage but also during the pre-operation phase. During the pre-operational phase, the drones are used in the site planning through the development of a comprehensive site map in a 3D model which is valuable in health and safety audit. The combination of drone’s laser scanning, imagery and GPS scanning creates a three-dimensional model of the work site as such the safety inspection team can easily preempt the hazards that can occur at the workplace. The site documentation and prediction of likely risks saves the potential damages that likely to occur if the inspection was to be done manually. The overlying drones scanning and photography ensures that construction teams progress as intended. The scanning helps in the visualization of deviations that might occur and call for immediate rectification measures to reduce the occurrence of costlier problems. Finally, the drones provide the documentation services without the causing disturbance of other activities in the site as it produces less noise and disruption that can attract the attention of other people. This increase the applicability places of drones in construction even in residential areas and schools.
Search and rescue missions
In case of accidents at workplace, the drones are used in the critical mission sections as the control and communication system of the gadget allows its compatibility with mobile devices which enhance the tracking of the location of people whose phones are connected to the gadget. Since drones are small in size, they penetrate narrow spaces to reach accident victims and send the signal to the rescue groups. Furthermore, the drones are significant in such missions since they are not easily affected with chemical, high temperatures, and moisture; thus the device is useful in anticipation of such events.
Use of drones in construction Sites in Abu Dhabi
Drones are significant in Building and Construction after the innovation and use of technology in military purposes. The drones also are known as Unmanned Aerial vehicle have established their application in the industry due to their unique features such as being lightweight, agile and able to live stream the videos while being operated with a ground pilot. As stipulated with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health(NIOSH), the emergence of drones has established wide applicability range in the field which ranges from the construction project planning through aerial surveillance, construction site to designing the actual building structure. UAVs are used in site monitoring especially for large building projects that cover an extended area which would take a considerable time to supervise manually. The aerial surveillance is usually more quickly than the ground manning. In the construction projects, the drones are usually fitted with cameras, radars, and other technological devices that enhance the surveillance capacity of the drones to serve the intended purpose.
In construction, drones have been praised for being a cost-effective way of conducting a site performance inspection. According to LHSFNA, drones systems have been used to inspect remote polluted sites without exposing the workers to the health hazards at the site. Also, the drones can be deployed in extreme environments which are difficult to reach by men such as under the bridges, great depths, and tall buildings which helps in the reduction of the likelihood of accident incidences.
Construction site safety Campaign in Abu Dhabi
The Abu Dhabi Municipal council conducted a three days forum purposed at enhancing the building contractors and consultants’ compliance with the standards and regulations for building and construction. In the forum, the municipality listed 44 offenses and 199 precautions that should be noted with site managers to boost on the section that had gaps under the stipulated environmental, health, and safety standards. The particular areas of the environmental health and safety standard that need improvement include the unsafe work height practices, non-compliance to the workplace protective gear, ignoring the on-site fences, inappropriate dumping of construction waste, casual storage of building materials, and failure of installation of safety systems in sites such as firefighting. The campaign accorded to the amended building act of 2009 and the public appearance, tranquility, and health act of 2012 which aim that construction sites abide by the ESH standards. With the stipulation of the construction areas that had safety standards shortcomings, the Abu Dhabi Municipality laid the ground for the use of UAVs to monitor the highlighted section to ensure that building projects are done in an environmentally sound manner.
The development of the Site Inspection Drone for site surveillance in Abu Dhabi
After continuous campaigns on the significance of the drone to enhance the workplace health and safety, the ADM council proposed the utilization of the Site Inspection Drone as technological advancement in the construction. The proposed plan includes the SID workflow, system architecture, and experimental performance and analysis of the system.
The SID workflow
The current workflow used for the site safety inspection and issuing the construction permits and approval is outdated. The model of violation detection is summarized in (fig.1). The site data is stored in the Community Development Partners (CDP) system from where the municipality officers collect and updates the data for a safety review. In case of violation of environmental health and safety regulation, the officers dispense fines and warnings to the construction company. The proposed SID system workflow integrates three necessary procedure of inspection of ADM regulation the violation detection, operational inspections, and complaints review. The base of the new system is the use of a drone which will perform the various role of data collection, disseminating the information to the municipal database and aiding conducting follow-up activities. The illustration of the new system can be seen fig.2.
The architecture of the SID
Component diagram; it consists of the drone, corporate database, and the server station. In the system, the drone obtains the construction site videos and images which are then sent to the base station. The information is used with ADM in inspection scheduling, coding the location of the site and conducting follow up operations.
System architect; the SID system will have a ground monitoring system that connects the municipal database and the drone’s operating system. The ground system will have softwares such as the control panel and camera view, which support the drone’s operating system for autonomous programmed activities. For more information see fig.4
Drone hardware; the drones hardware include the flame wheel propeller, the prop drive motors, a standard LiPo battery, and an energy supply regulator. The drone will use the ODROID processor that linked to the automated operating systems
Ground station Interface; the ADM developed the web Apache server to aid the control and monitoring of the drone using remote ground devices such as smartphones, computers, and tablets. As such, the activities of the drone will be controlled and monitored with a ground operator.
The experiment and Performance analysis
The ADM has already conducted a demonstration at the Dubai Internet City from where the drone exhibited the proposed projects potentials in the violence detection, and environmental health and safety analysis. In the experiment, a drone was launched to an inspection site from where it landed and obtained 3D images and videos used in the construction site safety monitoring. In the end, it proved that the proposed SID program would be fruitful as it’s expected that it will be launched soon.
Legal Framework on Use of Drones in Building and Construction in Abu Dhabi
The Abu Dhabi municipality has stipulated the guidelines necessary for the licensure on use of the UAVs as a technological advancement to solve the whores experienced in the building projects (Ball, 2019). The ADM delegation has then conducted several workshops in collaboration with legal institutions in spreading the best practices of drone use to ensure that most site managers are informed and adopt the new technology. Several components that need to be known for licensure and use of drones in Abu Dhabi include drone’s speed, extreme environment tolerance capacity, height and distance range, documentation, image, and video quality and other additional services (Ball, 2019).
The use of drones for any purpose whether commercial or private use is regulated with the General Civil Aviation Authority of UAE stipulations which should be abided to. The drones are categorized under the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles which are operated on board without pilots.
Since the construction drones are used for commercial purposed, the GCAA regulations need that the drone is registered with UAE Operator Authorization (UOA), and have a license that lasts for a year. Under the UOA documentation, the applicant for the permit should have a security clearance from GCAA website, a company application letter that addresses the color, weight and a serial number of the drone, company policy statement on the use of UAV and the description of the drone operations. Also, the regulations prohibit the use of drone 5Km proximity to an airport or close to the private and public property. Equally, drones should have a compulsory insurance cover for all commercial drones.
The authority has placed the following sanction in case a party violets the drone use regulations. The article 69 stipulates that a drone owner who operates a drone without a permit from competent authority after the expiry of the licensure period or pilots it while drunk should be jailed for a term not exceeding a year or pays a fine of not more than 50000 Dirham. Equally, an individual that flies a drown without a license or with wrong registration details navigates the drone in a prohibited area and fails to abide by the drone landing orders it should be jailed for a period not exceeding three years or pay a fine not exceeding 100000 dirhams as stipulated in article 70.