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Aurecon readies to launch drone squadron

Aurecon readies to launch drone squadron

Aurecon wants to be the first consulting engineering company to become a registered drone operator in South Africa.

In its announcement, the infrastructure advisory and engineering consultancy firm stated its intention to use its squadron of drones as a value-adding tool on client projects and believes this will significantly enhance its service offering.

The company's vision is to make use of drones on its projects 'business as usual' in the near future and is "only a few months away" from obtaining its Remote Operators Certificate (ROC) from the South African Civil Aviation Authority, at which point it will start using its drones on selected projects.

Aurecon will create 3D models from drone imagery and according to Richard Matchett, Aurecon Digital Lead RSA, the visual and contextual information enables the company to bring clients on board "for the journey with our design team to shape a better solution for their project. Clients and their internal stakeholders are able to become involved in the project development on a much deeper level in its early stages."

The engineering consultancy believes having a high-resolution aerial view of a project site or construction activity provides engineers with invaluable information.

"It enables them to make better decisions and take remedial actions before small problems escalate, and it helps a design team understand true progress on a site. Having an independent birds-eye view of projects also means that information can be gathered without having to depend on third parties to physically go and measure specific elements on a project site," the company added.

Aurecon is currently using drones for the completion of the New Bugesera International Airport in Rwanda.

According to its statement, the company obtained a permit from the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority to take aerial footage of the project site.

"Aurecon's pilot on site is using a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone to fly in a grid pattern across the 500-hectare site and take over 5000 photos per day. The drone photos are processed into an accurate aerial photograph that is detailed enough to identify plant, equipment and even tools such as spades and wheelbarrows. From this photogrammetric process, a 3D contour model is also created so that earthworks can be assessed from month to month, the company explains.

Matchett said what initially started as a fun idea quickly turned into a very serious and sober undertaking by the company's engineers.

"To become a registered drone operator in South Africa, we are required to adhere to the same operational guidelines and legislation as manned aviation. The initiative requires a high level of responsibility from Aurecon. The business systems and governance systems that our Drone Operations Management Team is putting in place are very comprehensive."


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