How UAVs Are Changing The Construction Industry

An Interview with Vincent Hoog, President, Atwell Aerospace

By Karan Singh


Formed by a group of professionals in 2008 who were passionate about engineering and aerospace, Atwell Aerospace is a player in the emerging unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry. We had the opportunity to interview Vincent Atwell, the President and CEO of Atwel Aerospace. 


KS: Tell us briefly about Atwell Aerospace; what are some of the services provided and industries served


VA: Atwell Aerospace uses UAVs and Crane Cameras to produce updated orthophotos and 3D models for survey, monitoring, inspection, and BIM requirements. Over the last 3 years Atwell Aerospace has served the civil engineering, environmental engineering, construction, and forestry industries.


Data is captured by way of images and processed using a photogrammetry application resulting in deliverables as files compatible with engineering and GIS CAD applications as well as on cloud platform. Delivered data sets, file based or cloud based, allow the end user to analyze site data by extracting information such as volume measurements, topography analysis, point cloud based DSM/DEM data and site build verification for BIM applications.

Our BIM specific service allows data to be automatically uploaded to cloud-based storage, where results are displayed on an intuitive timeline. Users can take measurements, share annotations, and compare as-built maps with design drawings and planning schedules enterprise wide through a secure web interface.


KS: What are some of the applications of UAVs or drones in the construction industry or urban planning?


VA: UAV’s/drones have become and invaluable tool for the construction industry and civil engineering as a whole. Drones can be used to quickly survey your job site and build maps. Instead of using human resources, heavy machinery & expensive surveying tools, that produce complex data, you can get the job done in half the time & money, with greater accuracy. Some of the specific applications include:


Surveying: Drones are used throughout the full life-cycle of a project. From pre-build site surveying resulting in point cloud generation for digital terrain models, sightline, and flood plain analysis to actual build (BIM) documentation and validation. The high-resolution imagery and 3D point cloud based deliverables can be delivered via browser-based technology and shared with appropriate project managers and other stake holders.


Documenting As-built for BIM: Where it is not convenient or practical to use drone technology for BIM data capture, Atwell Aerospace uses the Pix4D Crane Camera instead of a drone to capture the day to day progress of a project. to Validation and completes the loop to engineering drawings. Please take a look at this link. It is a live link to the hospital build and gives you a taste of what this product can do for BIM. Simply click on the images in the timeline at the top of your screen.

KS: What are some of the challenges faced in using UAVs in Canada or in general around the world?


VA: Regulations are an important element of aviation in general. They are needed to ensure public safety and operator compliance. Since UAVs are a legitimate user of national airspace they need to be regulated as aircraft and the operators of UAVs need to be regulated as pilots operating within the aviation sector. Some of the UAV regulations make it difficult and sometimes impossible to operate for construction purposes due to close proximity to busy roads, airports, and the general public as a whole.

These are some of the reasons why Atwell Aerospace has partnered with Pix4DBIM and their Crane Camera technology. A specialized camera is fitted to a construction crane and takes pictures of the build progress throughout the build cycle. The system is fully automated and delivers BIM data directly to the end user on any devise. This service offering is not affected by UAV regulations yet delivers the same type of very useful data.


KS: How does Atwell Aerospace find being member of CanBIM useful?


VA: CanBIM serves as a single point of truth in the Canadian BIM landscape. It is an