What is drone technology?

Drone technology, known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), is a small flying aircraft system that can be remotely controlled. Drones are equipped with downward-facing sensors, such as RGB, multispectral, thermal or LIDAR and they can capture a lot of aerial data in a short space of time. They are an innovation which is really taking off in the construction industry and are a key tool used by quantity surveyors, mainly for building surveying and inspection purposes.

How is it influencing the construction industry?

Construction mapping

Drone software systems produce accurate contour maps and 3D models, based on footage and data gathered.

Progress monitoring

Drone systems use real-time monitoring for enhanced security and in-the moment evaluation, response and planning. Producing weekly progress maps is easier, quicker and less costly than traditional methods.


Dangerous structures including areas where hazardous materials are leaking or there is risk of fire from flammable materials, can be too risky to send in personnel. Drone technology can present a safer option as it can remain at a safe distance, contributing to overall worker safety.

Reaching inaccessible/unsafe areas

Drones can reach inaccessible areas which saves time as well as minimising risk. This could include analysing roof structures from above which prevents the need to send surveyors up there to assess.


What are the risks?

  • Quantity surveyors need to make sure that the drones comply with the Civil Aviation Authority’s requirements. If they do not comply with the requirements, they can face large fines.
  • Surveyors also need to be aware of violating the Data Protection Act. Drones should only be used for the purpose of monitoring inaccessible areas and should not capture recordings of individuals when flying over other areas.
  • Lastly, companies need to make sure that their insurance covers risks such as collisions with people, buildings and other aircraft which can lead to property damage and personal injury.

What are the benefits of drones in surveying?

Reduce field time and survey costs

Capturing topographic data with a drone is up to five times faster than with land-based methods and requires less manpower. With PPK geo-tagging, you also save time, as placing numerous GCPs is no longer necessary. You ultimately deliver your survey results faster and at a lower cost.

Provide accurate and exhaustive data

Total stations only measure individual points. One drone flight produces thousands of measurements, which can be represented in different formats (orthomosaic, point cloud, DTM, DSM, contour lines, etc). Each pixel of the produced map or point of the 3D model contains 3D geo-data

Map otherwise inaccessible areas

An aerial mapping drone can take off and fly almost anywhere. You are no longer limited by unreachable areas, unsafe steep slopes or harsh terrain unsuitable for traditional measuring tools. You do not need to close down highways or train tracks. In fact, you can capture data during operation without an organizational overhead.

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