From a hobby to our eyes in the sky, drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), have a come a long way. However, due to lack of regulations, many governments have currently restricted the use of drones and UAVs, without prior necessary permits. While the technology is gaining acceptance, and poised to make a major impact on the commercial real estate industry, we believe that once firm legislations are formed on the commercial use of drones, it will be easier to capitalize on them for added business advantage. For example, it will help in surveillance of projects at a construction as well as the operational stage. It will enable companies to take shots of completed projects and buildings which can then be used to create 3D Models and virtual tours.
Today’s drones come equipped with HD cameras, enabling these machines to take aerial images and video footage of Real Estate projects along with its surrounding areas and provide buyers with an all-inclusive overview along with other applications like GPS/GIS, autopilot facilities, flightpath planning software, distance sensing and simple-to-use data processing applications.
Having said that, here’s a quick look at its uses and potential in commercial real estate.
AREA MAPPING AND SITE SURVEY
Multiple overlapping photos of the ground below can be captured with a drone flying autonomously along a pre-defined flight path. Captured images provide a unique aerial view of a building, showcasing the physical property as well as its location and surroundings in ways that can’t be captured with photos taken from the ground. Compared to commercial satellites, drones can capture high-resolution images and landscape features, which might otherwise be overlooked.
A technique known as Photogrammetry is used for mapping with drones which allows companies to take measurements from captured photographs. The output is normally a map, measurement or 3D model of a real-world object or location.
SAFER AND REMOTE INSPECTIONS
No matter how many ladders you have at your disposal or how brave you are up on the roof, it’s only a matter of time before an inaccessible roof will prevent you from completing a thorough roof inspection. Utilizing a drone enables you to inspect areas that are difficult or dangerous for humans to access, such as wind farms, bridges, condemned buildings, damaged roofs and collapsed buildings. A drone can also be deployed very quickly and capture the necessary footage in hard-to-reach places much faster than any person can. A typical drone flight can be completed within an hour depending on the size of the building.
Drones can also be used for thermal imaging to detect HVAC issues in buildings. The application and the data gathered, can also be scaled to larger areas like neighborhoods to determine average energy use and wastage.
SECURITY AND PROTECTION
Unmanned aircraft systems provide an ideal solution to problems and limitations faced by other surveillance methods. They can enter narrow and confined spaces which are inaccessible to humans and produce minimal noise. When equipped with night vision cameras and thermal sensors, these drones can capture imagery that naked human eye might be unable to detect. They can also provide live streaming of detailed data, follow objects or intruders from a safe distance and quickly cover a large area. The speed, size, maneuverability and additional technologies make UAVs/drones the perfect supplement to ground security teams.
What started off as a marketing tool to show prospective buyers, investors a bird’s eye view of properties, this technology is by no means limited to it. While the future of drone technology and services continues to play out, one thing is certain: drone use is on the rise and here to stay. As CRE and other industries leverage on what drones have to offer, it seems like sky’s the limit.