LiDAR for construction

by Measure Australia

Safety and efficiency are of the utmost importance in the planning and administration of every successful construction project. These two factors that unavoidably linked, because one being compromised, will inevitably lead to the breakdown of the other. Inefficient processes, such as cost-cutting on labour or materials, will lead to a reduction in safety, which then leads to reduced overall efficiency and increased costs. It is a co-dependent system which, when done poorly, will inevitably lead to the reputation of your company and the quality of output being impaired.

Recent advancements in technology and computing have led many to seek out solutions to traditional problems in these rapidly evolving fields, safety and efficiency in construction is no exception and this has led to the exploration of LiDAR as a simple and cost-effective solution.

LiDAR Inspections

LiDAR is a form of mapping and surveying that uses advanced drones to gather data. A company, such as Asseti, will consult with the construction company and then outfit its drones with the remote sensing and surveying tools that are required for the job. The mapping is incredibly accurate as it uses laser technology and GPS to gather a multitude of data points that are then mapped over each other, via the Asseti digital platform, to create a sophisticated, interactive 3D model (or digital twin) of the terrain.

Here are some examples of how LiDAR is being used to optimise and streamline construction projects.

Highly accurate initial surveys

LIDAR is far more accurate than traditional photogrammetric technology which works by stitching multiple aerial photographs together using an algorithm. This method has a limit to its accuracy due to limits on the resolution of the image. Because LiDAR uses laser technology and creates precise laser point-cloud measurements of the ground, it creates a far more accurate representation of the terrain being surveyed which is vital when initially determining how the land needs to be altered for the construction project to proceed.

Interactive project simulation and analysis to assist with project development

A big advantage of LiDAR is that the mapping data is so accurate that a 3D projection can be created from it. This can then be combined with other data collected by the drone during the survey (such as climate data) to create a 'digital twin', or model, which can be used to simulate, and predict, how any given construction project will interact with physical and material variables within the physical environment. For example, the digital twin can predict the impact of sunshine and reflections on a yet-to-be-constructed building to assist in window design and placement.

Eventually, with the development of AI, it will be possible to simulate a construction project in its entirety, and stakeholders and investors will be able to determine the viability or progress of a project by "walking through" a 3D Simulation or virtual reality tour of the project without leaving their office. This will also help to nail down project costs, to avoid any costly add-ons, and to deliver the project well before the deadline.

Accurate repair and maintenance identification throughout the project

LiDAR can be used throughout the construction phase of the project to perform regular inspections and maintenance checks. A chronological comparison of these checks will help to make sure the project is proceeding as planned, and to highlight real, or potential, issues – including safety.

Drones can survey and inspect areas traditionally difficult to access – quickly, accurately, and safely

It is in the area of site inspection that the benefits of using the combination of drones and LiDAR become obvious. LiDAR scans are safer, faster, and more cost-effective than manual inspections. Dangerous and high-risk areas no longer need to be accessed in person as they can now be scanned by LiDAR. LiDAR inspections significantly reduce injury, and safety, concerns.

Using drones will also significantly cut down on inspection times with a minimum of interruption to the construction site and, with the current rate of AI development, have the potential to become a fully automated inspection and data gathering tool.

LiDAR and UAVs - the way of the future

With the current rapid rate of development in both UAV and LiDAR technology the benefits they provide to the construction can only improve and expand. They have already become key tools in the never-ending battle to streamline and improve the safety and efficiency of construction projects while, at the same time, cutting back on cost. They are safer, cheaper, faster, and significantly reduce interruption to the day-to-day operations of the construction site.

Measure Australia uses Asseti

MA and Asseti can provide you with more information about the benefits outlined here. MA can provide trained UAV pilots, LiDAR technology, and suggest additional remote sensing tools as per your need. It's Asseti platform will then process, customise, and present the variety of gathered data in the form of an agile digital twin model that can then be used in the ways outlined above (along with many others) to benefit your construction project.