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The growing popularity of drones over the past few years has been pretty much amazing. The number of areas and industries where drones can be used is increasing constantly.
So, drones can be used in various industries for various reasons. One of those industries is civil engineering. Some of the biggest issues civil engineers can face are improving infrastructure resilience, increasing construction productivity, and maintaining site safety. I am not too clever when I conclude that it can be difficult to maintain all of these priorities and have enough time for each of them. This is where drones come to the scene.
By using a drone, civil engineers can reduce task time. In the long term, using drones in civil engineering can be extremely efficient since engineers can use the time they saved on tasks with a drone for saving money and human resources. Keep in mind that optimizing your budget is important so this can be a so-called “game-changer” for your engineering business. Therefore, drones can be an extremely cost-efficient tool in civil engineering.
In this article, we will take a look at some of the best drones for civil engineering and I have also created a guide on how to use drones in this industry.
Note: Keep in mind that these are only our opinions based on my thorough investigation of the best drone for civil engineering. In any case, please do your own research before deciding which ones are the most suitable ones for your goals and needs.
At this point, it is good to note that all opinions and suggestions written in this article are not considered financial advice.
Best drones for civil engineering
As mentioned above, I will show you some of the best drones for civil engineering. Based on my thorough investigation, there are 4 drones that stood out in this industry – DJI Mavic 2 Pro, DJI Matrice 300 RTK, DJI Mavic 3, and M210 RTK V2. So, without further ado, let’s jump into details.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro
The first drone on our list of best drones for civil engineering is DJI Mavic 2 Pro. This drone is widely popular in the drone industry and is considered one of the most used drones. The first thing you will notice about Mavic 2 Pro is that its size and weight are small which makes it almost effortless to transport and carry around.
Another thing I liked about Mavic 2 Pro is that it’s easy to use which makes it suitable for beginners or engineering companies that do not have much experience in using drones. Moreover, the drone has a GPS and Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing and collision avoidance system that makes Mavic 2 Pro avoid obstacles and crashing. The quality of images the drone produces is on a high level since there is a Hasselblad L1D-20c camera with a 20MP 1” CMOS Sensor
DJI Mavic 3 Aerial photography/videography
Yet another drone that can be used in civil engineering, mainly for aerial photography and videography is DJI Mavic 3 – one of the most popular drones in the industry today. Besides being well-known, Mavic 3 features a 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad camera. This is a relatively new drone since it was launched back in November of 2021 and this article was written in April of 2022.
Moreover, DJI Mavic 3 can fly for ~46 minutes which is more than the industry’s average and in a distance of 18.6 miles due to a 5000 mAh battery capacity. Keep in mind that you need to register with FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) since the rule is that all drones above 249 grames need this registration and Mavic 3 weighs in at 895 grams.
The main reason why DJI Mavic 3 became so popular so quickly is the fact that it produces high-quality photos and videos. The drones can be used under bad weather conditions and produce great images in the mountains. Please see below an example of an image taken by Mavic 3.
Of course, you can use the drone in the city as well and take beautiful photos of your city or the city you traveled to.
DJI Matrice 300 RTK Outdoor inspections
The next drone on our list of best drones for civil engineering is DJI Matrice 300 RTK. The first thing you will notice about Matrice 300 RTK is that it can fly for 55 minutes without any problems which is one of the longest flight times in the drones industry. TB60 type batteries with the combination of unrivaled reliability are the main reasons why the drone can fly for almost an hour.
Of course, long flight time is not the only feature Matrice 300 RTK offers. Other features include a 6 Directional Sensing and Positioning system, location sharing, PinPoint, Smart Track, and an extremely efficient flight control system. Due to these great features, DJI Matrice 300 RTK is widely considered one of the best and most powerful drones in the industry.
But why is DJI Matrice 300 RTK good for outdoor inspections? The drone offers Smart Inspection, a feature built to transform the way drone inspections are carried out in the field. This feature effectively helps the drone in the civil engineering and outdoor inspection industries.
M210 RTK V2 + Zenmuse X7 + 24MM
And last, but definitely not least, the drone on our list of best drones for civil engineering is M210 RTK V2. This is a very expensive drone, so if you are limited with your budget, it’s probably best to look elsewhere. However, there are valid reasons why M210 RTK V2’s price is higher than the price of other drones on this list.
Let me list all the exciting features that drone offers:
- Built-in RTK-G that offers high-level accuracy
- DRTK-2 Mobile Station
- DJI Care Enterprise crash protection
- Zenmuse X7 – 24MP camera
- Works well with DJI Terra
- ~38 minutes of flight time
- Water and dust resistant
- Obstacle avoidance system
- Stabilized FPV Camera
When you look at these features it’s not hard to conclude that the drone is expensive for a reason. You can use it to take high-level photos and images. Moreover, the drone features a specialized traveling case that allows users to carry the drone intact during hiking, camping, or doing civil engineering.
How to use drones for civil engineering?
If you want to use drones for civilian engineering you have to pay attention to some details that can make your job easier in that sense. I did a thorough investigation on this and came to the conclusion that the most important tasks you should do when using drones for civil engineering are observation, surveying, increasing productivity, having easily shareable data, keeping track of current progress, improving infrastructure, increasing productivity, and maintaining site safety.
So, without further ado, let me break each of these.
The first thing where drones can help when it comes to civil engineering is observation. The drone can be cost-saving since they can take high-quality images of the areas that can help in creating plans for the next steps in engineering.
These images are shared with personnel on-site, in headquarters and they can also be shared with sub-contractors. Planners can also meet virtually to discuss project plans such as timing, equipment, and challenges.
Surveying is also a part where drones can help. In fact, drones can provide a quantum leap for surveying. Furthermore, drones can reach and cover very specific sites. Of course, surveying is cost-effective which means that you will save money if you use drones for surveying rather than some other more expensive and complex devices. Finally, drones are equipped with advanced sensors which means that they can measure, transmit and store data.
Productivity is crucial for successful civil engineering jobs. Drones can offer effective methods on how to constantly increase productivity during the job.
Drones can take high-level images of job areas and these images will allow the team to make better decisions and these decisions will eventually lead to an increase in productivity. Another example of how drones can increase productivity in civil engineering is by doing inspections more efficiently and quickly than humans which allows the workers to focus on other tasks that require humans’ hands. This effectively saves time and money.
Easily Shareable Data
When it comes to civil engineering, it can happen that there are multiple shareholders and investors involved in the project, so sharing information easily with everyone can be very important. Therefore, another part where drones can help is easily shareable data.
Besides sending regular written updates, drones can send visual details to relevant parties as well such as aerial photographs, videos, and maps.
Keeping Track of Current Progress
Let’s imagine that you did some work related to civil engineering and you want to see where you are at the moment or in other words, you want to check and keep track of the current progress. This is where drones can become handy since they can fly over the whole area and take images and record videos of the current situation of the site.
These images and videos can later be used not only to keep the progress but to speed it up as well.
Improving infrastructure is yet another area where drones can be handy. In fact, drones help improves infrastructure in 3 ways – they provide better terminal inspection options, improve the safety of all infrastructural managers, and probably most importantly, they speed up infrastructural management.
Maintaining Site Safety
And last but not least part where drones can help is maintaining site safety. Hazard inspections help keep your workers safe by flying over the area and getting a precise view of it. Drones can be effective in inspecting hard-to-reach areas and areas that are not considered safe such as highways or under bridges. Moreover, drones make inspector jobs safer since they can inspect the area remotely without even entering dangerous areas.
Let’s look at some frequently asked questions about drones in civil engineering.
There are various drones that can be used for surveying. Based on my experience, the best drones for surveying are DJI Phantom 4 RTK, DJI Mavic 2 Pro, DJI Mavic 3, DJI Matrice 210 RTK, and DJI Mavic Air 2.
Some of the biggest problems civil engineers need to resolve are improving infrastructure resilience, increasing construction productivity, and maintaining site safety. It’s not easy to maintain all these tasks and have enough time for each of them. Drones can help here.
When using drones, civil engineers can reduce task time and be cost-effective.
When the time and money are saved, engineers can use it for something else and improve the project itself in various areas. Optimizing your budget and time can be “game changers” for your engineering business.
Most of the time, a drone survey will cost somewhere between $30 to $120 per acre. However, please do keep in mind that these costs depend on the type of survey that needs to be done and the amount of time to finish it.
DJI is the most powerful company in the world that produces drones and they have a couple of drones that can be used for mapping. If you are a beginner in the drone industry, I would recommend DJI Mavic 2 Pro or DJI Phantom 4 Pro. Even though these two drones are a bit more expensive, they will offer all the features you need to start high-quality mapping.