The human eye is a window to the soul, as we well know. However, it is also the window through which the soul perceives the world. As a result, it has a fairly large role in the way we have structured our lives, our architecture and our society as a whole.

Imagine for a moment that we did not have the gift of vision. Our street signs would have to be coated in particular smells or textured in unique patterns. Alerts would ring out from locations throughout the land as we tried to hone in on exactly what we were looking for. Luckily, we have vision to avoid some of the worst affronts to our senses.

And we harness our vision to its fullest potential, as we can plainly see (no pun intended) from how industrial, commercial and residential inspections usually work. We start with a visual inspection to determine areas of concern and then focus on those areas with subsequent inspection and testing methods. Unfortunately, visual inspections come with a fair amount of risk.

Take, for instance, cell phone tower inspections. A technician usually climbs the tower’s height, looking for corrosion indicators and signs of structural damage. At the top of the mast, where the potential for dangerous radio wave exposure is at its highest, they must ensure all supports and electronics are working correctly. Finally, they must descend again to complete their day’s labour.

Homes, gas plants, office buildings, commercial facilities; all of these require regular structural inspections on their walls, roofing and interior supports. Still, it isn’t just heights that people must expose themselves to in order to give our eyes the best advantage.

Small and cramped spaces also require visual inspection. Mines, utility corridors, internal pipelines, nuclear plants, pressure vessels and industrial painting operations also rely on visual inspections to maintain operational efficiency and longstanding asset integrity. So, what is the solution to all of these dangerous visual inspections?

High voltage power line tower inspection with a drone.

Well, as you may have guessed from the title of this article, drones for infrastructure inspection are the new option that is taking visual inspections by storm. Rather than an operator engaging in life-threatening and risky behaviour, they simply use a drone to access these dangerous and remote locations. This service is gaining credence and popularity at a rapid rate as employers realize the benefits to both safety and efficiency for their operations.

But, thanks in part to our eyes, drones for infrastructure inspection are actually exceeding a human’s native capabilities. New drone models can perform LiDAR, infrared and visual inspections at the same time. They can use built-in GNSS receivers to maintain an accurate, geolocated position in the air. Plus, we can increase their field of view (FOV) to provide more data in less time.

So to answer the question, “who benefits from drones for infrastructure inspection” you simply need to look at where we expose ourselves to danger in order to give our eyes a better look. Anywhere that we are doing that, we can be using drone technology to make the process safer, the data more accurate, and the results more consistent.