Drone Flights Make Virtual Visits a Reality

For many projects, Draper Aden provides quality control and inspection with boots on the ground at the job site, leaving the owner with peace of mind. On other projects, owners prefer to fill this role themselves, and for others, it isn’t feasible to have a person on hand daily.


In March 2020, nearly all companies had to immediately shift their working protocols due to COVID-19. That left one of our clients, states away from their site, unable to make their usual, routine visits.


With a history of innovative solutions on our side, our aerial team was able to provide the owners with the next best thing to being on site: virtual visits courtesy of Pix4Dcloud Advanced and senseFly eBee X drone flights.

area and volume measurement demo

This drone, equipped with LiDAR, includes many benefits beyond the bird’s eye view, including custom measurements, side-by-side comparisons, and three dimensions (3D) of inspection. With each drone flight, thousands upon thousands of data points are collected to create a point cloud. With only a web browser, that point cloud allows the user to measure areas, distances or volumes to reveal valuable information.

One use of this data is to measure and track the volume of materials on site. For example, if the goal is to mine 76,000 cubic feet, the data from the point cloud can calculate exactly how much space a pile of excavated media takes up, as well as providing the exact dimensions of the excavated hole. Additionally, volume calculations for a mine or stockpile can be compared from one flight to the next for tracking material.

elevation profile demo

For areas that are flown and documented routinely, users can also compare their site side-by-side with a sliding bar to see exactly how a landscape is changing over time. Any two times can be compared, allowing for both careful monitoring of a specific area or an awe-inspiring transformation from bare land to building. To take it a step further, the aerial data can be combined with CAD overlays to effectively create a living as-built model for the project.


Additionally, the 3D properties of the point cloud allow a user to zoom in and virtually “walk” around the site, seeing the height and slope of both earthworks and construction vehicles from a variety of angles. This technology can also act as documentation. With every trip timestamped, the client has a valuable evidence of how a site looked in case of any natural disasters or even failed equipment. The inspect tool even allows the user to pinpoint an area and see every image captured of the location during any flight to make close monitoring even easier.

gif of area mapping

In the case of the out of state owner, increasing these flights has saved them a dozen trips and nights away from home, which not only helps their budget and saves them valuable time, but also makes it effortless for them to maintain social distancing requirements.


The strategic combination of the senseFly eBee X drone and Pix4Dcloud Advanced can be used to support all kinds of construction projects. It provides valuable, precise data that can be easily shared across teams to keep everyone in sync. The contactless system also helps to minimize the spread of infectious diseases.


Contact us today to add this aerial service to your project.


This blog post is part of a series exploring projects and services that have helped clients realize their goals in innovative, cost-effective or time-saving manners. Click here for additional blog posts in this series, which covers a variety of engineering challenges.