With the recent expansion of drone use across the construction and inspection industries, leaders in the field are welcoming the most recent FAA Part 107 regulations and hope that the new rules will legitimize safe pilots while weeding out rogue users.
Because UAV tech may soon be as common as a hammer on a construction site, many in the industry want to keep safety issues at the forefront.
3D Robotics General Counsel Nancy Egan recently told ConstructionDive that new FAA rules will be “be a watershed for the drone industry and construction industry.”
“You’ll get a much higher level of compliance and a better culture of safety among drone pilots,” said, adding that companies can now launch commercial drone operations legally within two days, under the new rules.
Meanwhile, the construction and inspection industry is flying ahead of FAA regulations by partnering with insurance carriers to create a self-regulating safety standard – the Property Drone Consortium.
Consortium members include Allstate, American Family Insurance, Auto-Owners Insurance, EagleView Technologies and Erie Insurance and Pilot Catastrophe Services. The PDC will develop “standards and specifications for the safe use of unmanned aircraft system technology in the insurance and construction industries.”
Make no mistake – construction drones are here to stay. According to an April report by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the FAA had granted more than 1,800 exemptions to the infrastructure and construction industry at the time, comprising 60 percent of all request across all sectors.
A recent white paper by SkyLogic remarks: “never before has the benefit been more evident for using drones in the energy, telecom, and construction [industries].”
Whether or not construction drones will hover over most every job site within the next decade remains to be seen. However, a report by the National Association of Home Builders shows that, at least in the short term, larger builders will lead the way in drone adoption rates.
According to the group’s survey, 41 percent of the largest construction firms say they will very likely use drones in the future – compared to only 13 percent of the smallest builders. However, the group commissioned the survey ahead of the new FAA 107 rules, making it hard to say if the “less likely’s” will move into the likely column soon.