The Use of Drone Technologies Within the Built Environment of South Africa.
Authors: Benjamin Nicolai Jensen, Eljane Uys, Laetitia Cook
Abstract: As the 4th Industrial Revolution technologies continue to recast the practices of multiple industries, there is an opportunity for the South African Built Environment to hop on the bandwagon of this technical evolution. Within the country’s-built environment, the focus of the paper was upon reporting on the feasible symbiotic relationship of the construction industry and drone technology.Based on previous literature with regards to drones in the construction industry of South Africa, it was found that many practitioners were eager to investigate the possible use of drones however the main concern was the cost. Therefore, the question of what legal drone and data processing program could feasibly be incorporated by practising professionals into the different construction stages of development was investigated.To produce evidence, results and derive conclusions on the question; an exploratory study of academic journals and articles along with manufacturer specifications was conducted. First off, the paper motivates that through the versatility of drones and the processing programs abilities many current construction practices can become more efficient. It was found though, through interviews with practising professionals, that the only damper on optimising the versatility of drones in South Africa was the legislation.To guide the results of exploration practising professionals were interviewed to provide a baseline on the current use of drones in South Africa. The interviews revealed that before starting to look at a drone, a processing program or the cost thereof the legislation governing drone usage in South Africa must be understood and complied with. Throughout the paper, the legal requirements have been stated to inform the construction industry of these requirements. To follow this, professional drones and data processing programs available and their cost were tabulated to answer the question. However, it was concluded that a drone cannot be limited to a single stage in a construction project because of its multifaceted functionality. Furthermore, it is dependent on the size of the project and the skill of the pilot to whether a drone is a feasible option for each construction project.Future research may need to be done to further refine the study. Practical research tests to see how drones perform on South African construction sites may provide critical results to elaborate on, and provide additional data. Another aspect to be further researched is the legal cost of a drone in terms of time and money to critically answer whether outsourcing or in house drone services are the future of construction company’s practices.
Keywords: Drones, South Africa construction industry, feasibility, drone processing platforms, drone licensing in South Africa
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