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UAS Improves Project Efficiency in Complex Runway Redesign

June 12, 2017 by Woolpert

With the recent addition of new pilots across multiple disciplines at Woolpert, we are constantly leveraging unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) technology for new applications.

In particular, we are focusing on how we can integrate the imagery and data produced from UAS into our design work.

Recently, our teams used the technology for the construction monitoring of a complex runway extension, where two different UAS were used to monitor the progress and status of the current development.

A major aspect of the plans included a new vegetated mechanically stabilized earth wall, a design decision that decreases the number of trees cut down, minimizes the amount of fill needed, and is less obtrusive and less distracting to pilots as they land.

Images were collected from a Nadir (top down), and oblique images were collected over the construction site. We were then able to stitch these images together to reconstruct a 3D model of the runway. This data can be used to verify that the construction progress is going according to schedule as well as provide stakeholders that don’t have access to the site with a digital representation of the current project status.

With the four stages of construction, Woolpert also can use this information as a sort of “staged as-built,” where we can compare the conceptual design to the actual construction progress. This helps us confirm the needed intricacies of the design and identify unforeseen challenges that may arise during progress.

Using UAS for this type of project is just the start.

With our teams’ design, engineering and geospatial expertise, and the 3D data from UAS technology, we can more easily do volume calculations, site planning and disaster mitigation. For example, we have been contracted to monitor landslide areas and potential landslide areas in northern West Virginia.

The possibilities with UAS are endless, and we’re just scratching the surface. Stay tuned for future blogs that show how we’re flying high with this incredible technology.