Five ways drones will change the way buildings are designed

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Drones are already shaping the face of our cities, used for building planning, heritage, construction and improving safety. But as studies by the UK Department for Transport have found, sections of the public have a limited understanding of how drones could be applied in practice.

It is imperative that most people understand how drones are affecting our future. As experts in future and mobility design, we hope this brief overview of five ways drones will affect building design offers some insight into how things might change.

Infographic showing other ways drones will influence future building design.

1. Creation of digital models of buildings

Drones can take photographs of buildings, which are then used to build 3D models of buildings in computer aided design software.

These models are accurate to the centimeter and can be combined with other data, such as 3D interior scans via drones or laser scanners, to provide a completely accurate picture of the structure for surveyors, architects and clients.

Using these digital models saves time and money in the building process by providing a single source for architects and planners to view.

2. Asset simulations

Studio Drift is a multidisciplinary team of Dutch artists who have used drones to construct images through open-air drone theater performances at damaged national heritage sites such as Notre Dame in Paris, the Colosseum in Rome and Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Drones could be used in the near future in a similar way to help planners visualize the final impact of renovation or construction work on a damaged or partially finished building.

3. Delivery by drone

The arrival of drone delivery services will see significant changes in our community buildings, which will need to include docking stations at community hubs, shops and collection points.

A glossy white delivery drone pictured against a sunset.

A glossy white delivery drone pictured against a sunset.

There are likely to be landing pads installed on the roofs of residential houses and dedicated drone delivery hubs. Research has shown that drones can help with the last mile of any delivery in the UK, Germany, France and Italy.

Future architects will need to add these structures to their building plans.

Read more: When it comes to delivery drones, the government is selling us a pipe dream. Experts explain the real costs

4. Drones assembled with 3D printers.

Two research projects by the architecture, design, planning and consultancy firm Gensler and another by a consortium led by Imperial College London (comprising University College London, University of Bath, University of Pennsylvania, Queen Mary University of London and the Technical University of Munich) named Empa have experimented with drones with mounted 3D printers. These drones would work fast to construct emergency shelters or repair buildings at significant heights, without the need for scaffolding or in hard-to-reach places, providing safety benefits.

Gensler has used drones to repair wind turbines before, and Imperial College researchers are exploring swarms of bee-like drones working together to build projects. Drones coordinate with each other to follow a predefined path in a project called Aerial Additive Manufacturing. For now, the work is just a demonstration of the technology, and not work on a specific building.

In the future, drones with mounted 3D printers could help create highly customized buildings quickly, but how this might change the workforce and the potential consequences for manual jobs is yet to be understood.

5. Agile Surveillance

Drones offer new possibilities for surveillance away from the static, fixed nature of current systems such as closed circuit television.

Drones with cameras and sensors that rely on complex software systems such as biometric indicators and “facial recognition” will likely be the next level of surveillance applied by governments and police forces, as well as providing security monitoring for homeowners. The drones would likely be equipped with monitoring devices, which could communicate with security or police forces.

Drones used in this way could help our buildings become more responsive to intrusions and adaptable to climate change. Drones can move parts of the building as shade-creating devices, following the path of the sun to stop buildings from overheating, for example.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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The authors do not work for, consult with, own stock in, or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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