It’s certainly a known truth that construction sites are by definition going to be a complicated place, with constant changes and a lot of moving pieces. This is a big reason why technology can be such a huge boon for AEC firms, allowing an easier way to track all of these changes and moving parts to catch potential mistakes or clashes as early as possible. At the same time, these complicating factors can be one of the major reasons why organizations can be relatively slow to adopt these tools, at least in comparison to other industries. The solutions that can be helpful are often fragmented and focusing only on certain aspects, which can often lead to better individual tools but also creates a need for a number of different solutions for one project, which can be its own headache in and of itself.
Even just looking at reality capture on a site, which is an important process to get as detailed information on project progress as possible, oftentimes different tools are needed for different types of reality capture. A recent acquisition could change that. Earlier this month, aerial reality capture platform DroneDeploy announced that they are in agreement to acquire ground reality capture company StructionSite. The deal is expected to officially close later this month, and the two companies will be holding a webinar on November 1 to further explain the ramifications of this acquisition.
In the meantime, we have a clear idea of what this new unification will mean, which is that the entirety of a project’s reality capture workflow can be held within a single platform, removing that often problematic fragmentation. In their press release for the news, DroneDeploy boasts that this will create the “world’s most complete reality capture platform - enabling users to perform aerial, ground, interior, and exterior capture in one integrated solution.” Once this deal officially goes through, those in not only the construction industry, but also other spaces such as energy and infrastructure, will be able to more easily to deploy all of the reality capture solutions that make sense for any given project.
Considering that complexity of construction sites mentioned at the top, it’s not hard to see why all of these different reality capture methods would be needed in a single project. Project managers can glean broad information about a site from an aerial survey, receiving key information like stockpile tracking, whereas ground surveys can provide closer, more in-depth and accurate data for specific portions of the project. DroneDepoly CEO Mike Winn notes that “combining DroneDepoly’s leadership in aerial reality capture with StructionSite’s leadership in ground reality capture will enable full reality capture for 40 percent of the top 400 general contractors.”
The company also notes that this combination of aerial and ground reality capture leaders could also accelerate automation for some of the largest construction and energy companies. Automation is something of a buzzword at this point, and plenty of skepticism about how realistic it is to utilize these tools. That said, companies who are taking the leap are seeing benefits in both safety and efficiency. DroneDepoly, for their part, offer both autonomous ground robotic platforms to perform reality capture as well as drone-in-a-box solutions.
DroneDeploy is a U.S.-based company founded in 2013 with a customer base spanning 190 countries around the world, with over 300 million acres and 1.7 million sites mapped from 7.9 million flights. StructionSite, meanwhile, is another U.S.-based company, founded more recently in 2016. Since that founding, their customers have captured over $190 billion of construction volume.
On the acquisition, Winn also noted, “Companies across industries have been asking for a unified view of their sites: a single platform to document, inspect and measure the exterior and interior of their assets and infrastructure.”
StructionSite CEO and co-founder Matt Daly added, “I am thrilled that with the DroneDeploy and StructionSite teams joining forces, our combined technology, resources and expertise will deliver the unified experience our construction customers and the wider industry have been asking for. Together, we can accelerate StructionSite’s product roadmap through an integrated platform that will enable some of the world’s largest construction companies to deploy autonomous aerial and ground robots to deliver efficiency and cost savings at scale.”