Over the past few years some of the notable advances in technology that have hit the headlines include robotics, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and drones; all innovations which can help automate human ability in work, home and beyond.
On the Hub we’ve spoken a lot about robots and artificial intelligence and how it might impact HVAC jobs, but what about the impact of commercial drones in this sector?
The rise of the drone has been a huge talking point for everyone, from global retailers like Amazon who want to use drones to improve their service, to photographers who use drones to capture inaccessible photographs.
But can the combination of service and inaccessibility make drones the perfect asset to building services?
Below are some of the ways in which drones have helped to enhance our human functionalities and abilities, from advancing visual performance techniques at concerts, to improving HVAC maintenance and service in the construction sector.
Aside from Beyoncé’s headline performance, one of the standout videos that I’ve seen of this year’s Coachella festival in America is of the drone show by HP and Intel. Drone shows have featured a number of times in the past year at major events like the Super bowl and the Seoul Winter Olympics. At Coachella the show consisted of 420 plastic and foam drones that lit up the sky with jaw dropping synchronised patterns.
The Intel ‘Shooting Star’ drones used are computer operated, human piloted drones (apparently 1 pilot operated them all) with a battery life of 20 minutes. Each drone is able to emit more than 4 billion colours due to an array of LED lights making them a perfect (and arguable environmentally friendly) alternative to a fireworks display.
Last year Intel also had a drone show at Coachella but on a slightly smaller scale with only 300 drones used. The feedback from festival goers was so good that this year’s performance was almost as large as that seen at the Beijing Olympics.
Intel’s drone shows debuted in Germany in 2015 and have since set 2 Guinness World Records for the most ‘Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) airborne simultaneously’.
One of these records was set at the Seoul Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony where 1,218 drones were used in order to create a stunning display of 3D images including a man on a snowboard. This drone show is probably the most famous global example of how drones are impacting visual performances and changing the face of live entertainment shows.
Aside from being used for visual performance, large single drones have also been used at smaller events for brand promotion.
On Thursday 19th April a drone driven airship floated gracefully above the 1,000 attendees at the H&V News awards in Grosvenor House. The drone airship not only looked good, it also took aerial photos of the event and highlighted the potential of this kind of equipment at indoor tradeshows.
HVAC and building services
As well as virtual reality, 3D printing and green construction, the use of the drones is expected to become a big trend in construction. Drones are already being used to help building surveyors inspect inaccessible parts of buildings and they are also a great away to capture immediate aerial images and footage that can be turned into 3D renderings.
For those involved in installing and maintaining HVAC systems, drones can be used to inspect systems that are on roofs or hard to reach places. This reduces time, improves safety (as human safety isn’t at risk) and can accurately allow an engineer or facilities manager to understand what maintenance needs to be done, helping reduce maintenance costs.
Drones can also be used to check debris around HVAC systems which might be impacting energy efficiency. Some types of drones can also be used to gather thermal imaging and infrared for leak detection, building energy loss and other inefficiencies.
Drones are also a great way to capture HVAC installations for brochure photography, videos and social media. In fact, as part of our A++ Ecodan renewable heating campaign last year, we created this video using a drone:
For other areas of construction, drones can help with site inspections by carrying out high risk visual inspections. They are also a great way of recording project progress and can help create a virtual walk through – a great way to show off a site to stakeholders.
The use of drones to enhance and improve how we work and play is proving to be a great step forward in our adoption of technology. Commercial drones have shown their potential to improve our safety, improve convenience and create a whole new form of entertainment. But for me, it will be interesting to see how we adopt it more into our working lives because for construction and HVAC maintenance I think it’s a brilliant idea and I look forward to reading more about drones and the building services sector in the future.