Construction projects require teams of surveyors who continually map blueprints to precise, real-world locations. Drones might do it faster, saving time and money.

What’s new: Civdrone, a startup with offices in New York and Tel Aviv, is developing a platform that uses drones to place surveying stakes around construction sites.

How it works:

  • The company uses off-the-shelf drones, each piloted by a human operator and equipped with a quiver of stakes.
  • Where a survey marker is needed, a drone flies to the location, lands, and stabs a stake into the ground using a small pile driver.
  • Each stake is topped with a QR code, which the drone encodes with the location’s GPS coordinates and elevation. The QR code can also contain information such as the presence of a gas pipe buried below.
  • Construction workers can use a phone or dedicated QR-code reader to read the information.

Behind the news: Construction is a hot area for drones, where mostly they provide a bird’s-eye view of job sites to help builders plan, track progress, and spot hazards. One maker of software for commercial and industrial drones says the construction industry is its fastest-growing customer.

Why it matters: Surveying ensures that buildings stay true to their designs and plumb even as the ground shifts from day to day. Highly trained surveyors can insert around a hundred markers per day. Civdrone says it can do the work four times faster.

We’re thinking: Construction companies live and die by their ability to stay on schedule and budget. Eliminating even the smallest delays — such as workers waiting for surveyors to finish their work — can keep projects on track and maintain wiggle room for when bigger snafus inevitably occur.


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