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3DR Partners With SoftBank to Offer Site Scan to the AEC Industry in Japan

Today, we’re excited to announce our partnership with SoftBank C&S, one of Japan’s largest distributors of information and communications technology, to bring Site Scan to AEC professionals in Japan. With this partnership, Site Scan is now the only commercial drone software that SoftBank offers, which opens up the power of drone data to their customers across the country.

The timing couldn’t be better: there has been a building boom across Japan as it prepares to host the 2020 Olympics, but their construction industry suffers from a significant labor shortage due to the country’s shrinking population. To address this, in 2015 the Japanese government launched the i-Construction initiative to help the understaffed industry increase worker productivity by 50%. Drones, which can fly autonomously and capture data fast and cost-effectively, play a key role in helping get there.

The 3DR sales team recently joined SoftBank C&S on their national Site Scan roadshow, demonstrating the product across Japan in collaboration with Autodesk and Shibamoto & Co., 3DR’s authorized distributor in Japan.

“Being in person with SoftBank, Autodesk, and Shibamoto made it clear just how big of an impact aerial data capture can have in the Japanese market,” said Matt Harrison, Head of Sales at 3DR. “Aerial data software like Site Scan is already driving productivity for our customers in Japan. The partnership with SoftBank will allow 3DR to meet the demand for drone data across the country.”

“SoftBank is an established, innovative firm with a strong track record of success, and it’s great to see their initial traction with the Site Scan roadshow,” said Chris Anderson, CEO, 3DR. “We look forward to continuing to develop our partnership with them to help drive productivity on construction projects across Japan.”

The post 3DR Partners With SoftBank to Offer Site Scan to the AEC Industry in Japan appeared first on 3DR Site Scan - Commercial Drone Platform.

New in Site Scan: Compare Jobs and Enhanced Overlays

Drone surveys can help improve traditional survey methods in a simple way: they can collect millions of points, not just dozens, in a fraction of the time. This sheer amount of drone data can be overwhelming, though: how can it be properly managed, analyzed, and used to make good decisions?

To help make this easier, today we’re announcing two new features in Site Scan Manager: Compare Jobs and Enhanced Overlays.

Compare Jobs

Many of our customers fly their drone on-site multiple times per week, frequently collecting up-to-date data and tracking progress. Now, with Compare Jobs, it’s possible to go back in time on any project, put two orthomosaics side-by-side, and analyze the difference with an interactive slider:

Compare Jobs

Need to verify work done by subcontractors, or ensure that important objects were placed correctly? Compare Jobs is perfect for that. There’s a timeline just below the main toolbar that automatically reflects the number of jobs in a project, making it easy to choose dates to review:


PDF Overlay

The ability to overlay design files on top of an orthomosaic is one of the most powerful features in Site Scan. Today, we’re making it even better: now, in addition to CAD files, Site Scan users can upload a PDF file of their design file, georeference it in a couple clicks, and overlay it to spot any issues or discrepancies that need to be fixed.

We chose a vector file format, PDF, so your design and plan files can be resized and viewed without losing resolution. Raster files, such as PNGs and JPGs, have a fixed number of pixels and will lose resolution when resized. Our goal is to provide simple, powerful workflows without sacrificing the quality of your designs when they are overlaid on your orthomosaics.

Project stakeholders—owners, general contractors, subcontractors, and more—typically keep their design files as PDFs. They reference these files on a daily basis, but when it comes to reviewing the designs on a PDF to what’s actually being built on-site, the differences can be significant. Drone data can help bridge the gap between design and reality, and PDF overlay is an important step towards that.


Mark your calendar…

Want to see these new features in action? Good timing: we’re hosting a training webinar at 10AM on Thursday, June 29th, which will walk you through these features and the rest of Site Scan Manager. If you’d like to attend, register here and stay tuned for updates.

Looking for a Site Scan demo? Speak with one of our specialists—contact us to set up a meeting.

Both of these features are now live on Site Scan Manager, so log in today to try them out. For more information, check out the knowledge base articles for Compare Jobs and PDF Overlay.

The post New in Site Scan: Compare Jobs and Enhanced Overlays appeared first on 3DR Site Scan - Commercial Drone Platform.

Meet the Next Generation Autopilot: Pixhawk Mini

Looking to start building on the new Dronecode PX4 stack? Now, with the Pixhawk Mini, you finally can.

At 60% of the size of the original Pixhawk and with improved sensors and an included GPS module, Mini is the smallest Pixhawk autopilot you can buy while still rivalling its big brothers in power. Designed specifically for PX4, Mini works is designed to be especially easy to use with quadcopters: it has an integrated four-motor power distribution board and power supply module, which enables small and efficient installations with small quadcopters.

Need an autopilot for larger multicopters, planes, autonomous cars, or boats? Mini has an 8 channel output board to support them, in addition to a digital airspeed sensor to handle long I2C cables. The improved power module also handles 4s and 6s batteries reliably. And it has new performance sensors not available in the Pixhawk 1 or Pixfalcon, as well as an added CAN bus for modern accessories.

Pixhawk Mini is designed for the pro-grade Dronecode PX4 software, including one-click installation to QGroundControl (compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux and Android). Tt’s also now supported by the popular open source ArduPilot code , version 3.5 and beyond.

For more about the Pixhawk Mini’s features, technical specs, and to buy online for just $199 on Amazon.

The post Meet the Next Generation Autopilot: Pixhawk Mini appeared first on 3DR Site Scan - Commercial Drone Platform.

How Drones Make Topographic Surveys 6X Faster

Headquartered in Gainesville, Texas, All American Surveying (AAS) is a full-service survey firm run by Jake and JT Thompson. They were recently contracted with all of the survey work for a 90-acre residential development project in Texas, and found a number of opportunities to drive significant value for their client by using drones as a topographic survey tool.

AAS was brought into the project on a few occasions: first, they were initially tasked with performing pad and road grade verifications and delivering a cut-and-fill analysis, which would be used before the earthwork contractor started their work. Then, once the earthwork contractor completed their work and brought the dirt to grade, AAS was brought in again to survey the site to verify the work had been done as planned.

Their goal

“Given that this is a 90-acre site, a traditional survey would take 2 to 3 weeks to do,” Jake said. “Our client wanted to survey the site in a much shorter timeframe, and we wanted to offer them a way to do that.”

For AAS, the large size of the site—and the fact that it was groomed earth with no vegetation—made using a drone a perfect fit. “Drones are increasingly our go-to tool for topographic surveys like this,” Jake said. “We knew that it would help us survey the site faster, so then we focused on finding the right one for our needs: we needed a drone solution that had the level of accuracy to satisfy not only our own criteria, but also the standards of the Registered Professional Land Surveyor (RPLS).”

The solution: 3DR Site Scan

Jake and his team decided to use 3DR Site Scan to perform the survey work. The simple workflow in the field, cloud processing, and accuracy were all important factors in their decision. “At the time, the Sony R10C camera had just been added to the Site Scan drone,” Jake said. “We tested it, and found that it was incredibly detailed and accurate. We knew that Site Scan would pass the criteria of our Registered Professional Land Surveyor (RPLS). We did a lot of verification between conventional survey and what Site Scan offered, and we felt that the R10C camera provided survey-grade accuracy that wasn’t available in other UAV solutions. We were confident in it, and we felt that the RPLS was more than confident in signing and sealing these deliverables as well.”

In order to improve accuracy even further, AAS set 5 ground control points throughout the whole site and used them to georeference their orthomosaic, which was processed by Autodesk ReCap within Site Scan Manager:

Key results

1. 6X faster time to survey deliverable

Speed was a priority on this project, and with a drone, AAS was able to deliver. According to Jake, it would have taken about 18 days to perform a manual survey of the 90-acre site, process the data, and finalize the deliverables. With Site Scan, they were able to cut this process down to just 3 days, making their drone survey workflow 6X more efficient than traditional surveying.

2. Detailed cut-and-fill analysis and comparison

For AAS, surveying speed wasn’t the only benefit of using drones on this project: with a drone, they were able to collect millions of points and capture their site in greater detail than ever before. As JT said, “With a conventional survey instrument, we’d typically capture the four points of the pad and one in the middle, and create a cut-and-fill analysis to compare the existing elevation with the target elevation.” With Site Scan, he said, “We were able to collect way more points, and provide data on anything in between: dips, humps, stockpiles, and more. With the drone, we found areas with excess dirt in areas we couldn’t have found conventionally.”

“With the drone, we found areas with excess dirt in areas we couldn’t have found conventionally.” — JT, All American Surveying



Cut-and-fill analysis using drone data

3. Saving their client over $100K and earning repeat work

While AAS was initially contracted to perform survey work, their client ended up using the drone data for project management and billing purposes as well. In fact, the data was able to save their client over $100K when in a dispute with an earthwork subcontractor, which also earned AAS extra business on the project.

Here’s how: as Jake said, “Our client was upset about how some of the earthwork had been performed—they didn’t think it was done properly. The contractor said they had moved a certain amount of dirt, and gotten everything to subgrade, but in reality, they hadn’t gotten it to subgrade, and they hadn’t moved as much dirt as they said they had, despite providing a full invoice.”

Without proper documentation, there was no way for their client to prove that this work had not been completed properly. Their client was stuck—until they saw the drone data. AAS flew the site on December 12th, and then a month later on January 12th for verification, and compared the difference in earth moved compared to the contractor invoice. They identified a big discrepancy—over 250,000 cubic yards of dirt that had been moved incorrectly—and used the point cloud data to prove it.

“Our client could then could show this to their subcontractor, get them to finish the work as planned, and get them to pay for half of the survey cost and reduce the invoice. This saved our client about $100,000, probably even more.” For survey firms like AAS, this ability to verify performed work quickly and cost-effectively is opening up new opportunities for repeat surveys. “Now, our clients can bring us in and monitor their project as often as they want to,” JT said.

“Drones are making topographic surveying simpler, easier, and faster than ever before.” — Jake Thompson, All American Surveying

Next steps

Drones have enabled AAS to perform topographic surveys faster, cheaper, and safer on a variety of projects. A major benefit for them, though, isn’t just the drone: it’s the software they use back at the office, Site Scan Manager, to analyze the data they collect, share it with stakeholders, and make decisions.

With the new Site Scan Manager, Jake said, “being able to fully manage projects and have access to my data anywhere has been priceless. I can collect data, and then in minutes I can get the raw data for different stakeholders to view, and then within a day I can get the rest of the information in detail.”

Going forward, now that they’ve established drones as a survey-grade tool, AAS plans to incorporate them on a number of new projects and win new business. “Site Scan has had a big effect on the work we’re doing,” Jake said, “It’s making topographic surveying simpler, easier, and faster than ever before.”

The post How Drones Make Topographic Surveys 6X Faster appeared first on 3DR Site Scan - Commercial Drone Platform.

Introducing Perimeter Scan, Our Newest Flight Mode

What if your drone could not only do topographic surveys, but also help you model your structure as it’s actually going up?

For construction and engineering professionals who have been using drones on-site, this capability has been out of reach for too long. While drones have proven to be effective at capturing top-down imagery and data, but it’s been more difficult to capture data of the side of a building, making the resulting point cloud not nearly detailed as it needs to be for ongoing modelling and as-builts.

We set out to fix that, and today we’re excited to announce the result: perimeter scan, our newest flight mode in Site Scan Field. Perimeter scan is designed specifically to capture façades and vertical structures, making it easy to collect better data in the field and model your project from start to finish.

The workflow is simple: first, select the area you want to cover, and Site Scan automatically generates your flight path. The drone flies autonomously at 3 different altitudes and a number of gimbal angles, collecting rich, detailed data.

This helps you create point clouds and meshes that accurately depict taller structures and multi-story buildings. Our customer, Argyle Asia, used the perimeter scan feature for a recent as-built project, and they made their workflow 5X more efficient. Here’s how.

It can also be used to collect volume data on stockpiles, do better inspection surveys for dams and power lines, capture existing conditions for design and renovation projects, and much more.

Perimeter scan is the first of its kind in the commercial drone industry, enabling construction and engineering professionals to capture a whole new dimension of the jobsite. Learn more:

Want to see the whole workflow? Read our knowledge base article, which shows how to fly a perimeter scan flight from start to finish.

The post Introducing Perimeter Scan, Our Newest Flight Mode appeared first on 3DR Site Scan - Commercial Drone Platform.

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