Guidelines for drone use: infrastructure inspections

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University of New Brunswick


The application of Unoccupied Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is becoming essential in many industries. The potential benefits of UAVs for inspecting inaccessible infrastructure is beginning to emerge as current methods are limited in their practicality, cost effectiveness, and lack the ability to provide a comprehensive status of infrastructure. Identifying the circumstances in which to utilize a UAV as an inspection method is unclear and therefore this research aims to identify the circumstances in which to utilize aerial technologies as an inspection tool for currently inaccessible infrastructure by capturing high-resolution images from a small-scale UAV and delivering those images through a web-based interface. A notable increase in research on the application of UAVs within civil engineering was identified from 2011 onward. The increase in literature includes the use of UAVs as inspection tools, which is an advancement of current inspection procedures. A large number of UAVs are commercially available and users must determine the necessary features for their application. However, upon use of a UAV, the Transport Canada regulations must be met, including the application for a Special Flight Operation Certificate. The four-part case study completed provides an example of the value a UAV inspection method and as a result the requirement to develop guideline material. With the use of the guideline materials, including a selection flowchart, users have the ability to understand the conditions and constraints of a UAV inspection, along with the advantages of UAV and traditional inspection methods. The validation of this material by several industry experts demonstrates that engineers and inspectors value the necessary material for the decision making process of a preferred inspection method.