UAS (Drone) Services

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones, are changing the way civil engineering work is performed. Like the ground-based Leica laser scanners Churchill uses to obtain high resolution 3D data, drones are a tool we use for the collection of valuable project data. Using a 20+ MP APS-C camera flying at an altitude of 150 feet, we are able to produce survey quality photogrammetric data, including orthomosaics, point clouds, 3D mesh, and digital surface models. Using real time kinematic (RTK) equipped drones, the data can be processed in the cloud using Leica SmartNet as the images are collected, and made available simultaneously in the office for further processing.

Although drones can’t yet match the resolution of our ground-based Leica scanners, they are more versatile with respect to the types of data they can provide. Both Leica scanners and drones enable us to generate georeferenced point cloud data that is fully compatible with publicly available LiDAR. Point cloud data from all three sources can be merged into seamless 3D models, which can be utilized in building information modeling (BIM) systems for preparation of design and as-built drawings.

We utilize state of the art software to develop autonomous flight plans for our drone flights, and a two-man team comprised of a Part 107 sUAS-licensed pilot in command (PIC) and a visual observer (VO), to ensure safe operation. One of the requirements on our flight plan checklist is to notify the local police department of our intended flights, to determine whether there are any local municipal ordinances that govern drone use. Drone insurance is maintained to protect both our company and our clients.

The drone services we provide include the following:

High resolution georeferenced aerial imagery for use in site planning, permitting, design, and construction management

Construction site monitoring for job progress, quantity calculations, and as-built conditions

Bridge inspections

Pavement inspections

Communication tower and high-mast light pole inspections

Roof inspections