Concept: Australian startup ‘Propeller Aero’ (Propeller) and Swiss vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) drone manufacturing startup ‘Wingtra’ have collaborated to provide 3D mapping and site data for earthworks and construction companies around the world. The duo leverages Propeller’s cloud-based drone survey visualization software along with WingtraOne’s drone to enable construction professionals to capture survey-grade data throughout the entire worksite with increased consistency and accuracy.

Nature of Disruption: The operation begins with surveyors installing Propellor AeroPoints, a ground control solution for drone mapping that includes a solar panel and plug-in charger, battery, GPS, and Wi-Fi inside a fully-sealed, lightweight shell, on the worksite and flying the WingtraOne drone to gather survey data. Subsequently, the survey images are transferred to the cloud-based Propeller platform, which carries out geotagging and photogrammetry processing within 24 hours of image submission. Propellor claims that AeroPoints is a turnkey ground control system compatible with most GPS-enabled drones, coordinate reference systems, and processing software. It wirelessly uploads ground control data to the web-based user portal and is accessible to users for data viewing and management. It offers a 3D view of the worksite that is suitable for virtual tours. Its earthwork software optimizes road-grade checks, stockpile measures, volumetrics, and design conformance checks. The timeline slider enables surveyors to evaluate the site’s progress with time. They can also upload design surfaces and linework to the platform to compare the work done with the expected final results using surface-to-surface, single-point, and cross-section comparisons. Its Composite Survey’ feature combines surveys of active areas to provide a comprehensive view of the entire worksite, eliminating the need to map the full site each time and cutting down the time spent on site. The platform can be integrated into existing workflows, allowing for drag-and-drop upload of pre-processed LiDAR data.

Outlook: Surveying is an essential part of sectors like mining, irrigation, urban planning, and infrastructure development. However, traditional survey methods involve increased cost, error-prone manual data collection, and risk of injury and fatality. WingtraOne data collection with AeroPoints and Propeller platform aims to provide 3D site models that can enable site workers to view, inspect, and track the job progress with improved accuracy and reliability. Per the startup, its new solution can minimize labor costs, reduce conflicts and disputes, and increase the precision of pre-construction bids.

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