Category: Inspection

03 Sep 2020
Drone Development

Sky Tech Designs It’s First Drone

Sky Tech has been focused on moving into more specialist drone areas ahead of BVLOS becoming more common place in the near future. This summer we had the opportunity to work on a drone design project with intern Elsa Larsson. Our business isn’t currently strong enough to support full time R&D staff and this provided an excellent opportunity to work on some new ideas over an 8 week period. Our intention has firstly been to perform a more hands on drone design and build project but the Covid-19 outbreak made this difficult to execute. After careful consideration we decided to commit to the project in a remote manner allowing Elsa to work from home performing research and design.

The project was to design and build Sky Techs first drone. Previously we have built many drones from kit airframes with little knowledge into matching flight characteristics to task and payload. We began working on a spec some weeks before the internship began to allow Elsa adequate time for her design. We set up some digital tools to help communication and of course had many Zoom meetings. After the first week researching the problem domain she began studying aerodynamic design and created a Matlab script to optimised the shape and size of the aircraft. David was tasked with electronic design and manufacturing out of the home garage! Some of these details such as size and weights were input back into Elsa’s calculations before she moved on to design in Fusion 360.

David manufactured the fuselage out of model plywood via CNC cutting. Small connectors to join various carbon fibre parts were 3D printed. And finally wing profiles were cut using a hot-wire cutter which David had to build specially for the build to accommodate the large wingspan.

As of time of writing final manufacture and testing is incomplete. We look forward to trails in the next couple of months to assess the performance of this exciting drone!

It was a pleasure working with Elsa and she delivered an excellent project and final report. Many of the tasks at the time were outside of her skill set not being straight aero mechanical student and never having designed or flown a drone before. She picked up new skills very quickly researching new areas of aero mechanical and learning Fusion 360 to provide production quality model within a couple of weeks.

Before she finished we recorded a small video on our experience working together on the project during Covid-19. Apologies for the poor qualitt from the Zoom recording.

10 Jan 2020
Roof Inspection By Drone

Roof Inspection And Survey

Conducting roof inspections with drones is providing advantages in terms of speed, coverage, cost savings and more over traditional methods.

What Is a Roof Survey?

A roof survey is where a professional surveyor makes an assessment of the condition of a roof. The condition of tiles, chimney pots, flashing, guttering etc are noted from the ground mostly by visual inspection on the ground or using binoculars. During property transactions roof surveys are carried out and for landlords it is a legal requirement to do so routinely.

A roof inspection provides images alone in a methodological manner which can then be passed to a professional surveyor or repair company. Which really depends on the outcome if it is for an property transaction, warranty or insurance claim or general repair.

A written roof inspection report will highlight the severity and wear or damage that requires immediate action. A detailed roof inspection report is beneficial to property owners to pass to insurers and roof repair companies. It allows accurate cost estimates to be made for repairs and transparency to the client what has to be rectified. Something as simple as finding a slipped tile or blocked gutter could save a lot of money in further interior damage after heavy rain.

A roof survey may take place as part of a wider building survey. It may be neccessary for an professional surveyor to access the internal roof space to assess structural integrity, insulation and membrane material. At the very highest level a roof surveyor would assess a roof by hand using a cherry picker, ladder or scaffolding prising at different elements such as mortar, mastics, tiles and guttering. But this level of attention is very unusual and also considerably more expensive.

This is where conducting a roof inspection using a drone provides considerable advantages. A roof in bad condition could be dangerous to access with risk to the assessor and those below should anything be dislodged.

For the rest of this article we predominantly discuss external roof inspections with no contact to the roof.

Roof inspection utilising a camera drone.

Roof Inspection Using Drones

  • Fast to deploy
  • Extensive and concise coverage
  • Access to any style and height of roof
  • Images show exact position of issues
  • Historical record of condition
  • No contact with dangerous buildings
  • Drone must keep safe distance from public
  • Noise and privacy concerns
  • Visual assesment only, can’t pull or tap
  • Can’t fix simple faults at same time

Drone roof inspections give a reduction in cost, risk, and time to report delivery. On large and difficult to access roofs, drone imagery provides more extensive and concise coverage. Digital imagery can then be uploaded and processed in the cloud for further analysis and compilation of a final report. Sky Tech can advise on the most cost effective solution for your needs.

Example of online digital reporting from roof inspection.

Digital Reporting Tools

Once the roof inspection is completed images and video from the survey are uploaded to the cloud for processing. Digital survey images can be examined remotely by a professional surveyor and the extent of visual faults tagged by severity either manually or with an AI assistant. Images are also on hand as proof to insurers that repairs are necessary.

Is is also possible to create 3D models for special cases such as recording historic buildings. See some excelent examples here.

This is an excellent visualisation tool for virtual and augmented reality either for professional use by say architects or for public displays in exhibits.

3D models also allow the measurement of distance, area and volume when done correctly.

Example of tagged inspection report

Our Inspection Methodology

Our drone roof survey provides a detailed and extensive coverage of different roof aspects and elements as follows:

  • Overview from above building
  • Each roof aspect orthogonal to the slope
  • Ridges, hips, valleys and parapets
  • Chimneys, dormers, bell towers
  • Gutters, downpipes, vest pipes, vents
  • Gable ends mainsonary and pointing
  • Roof antenna, satellite dishes and cabling

How the inspection images are assessed are up to you. Either self assess, ask us for assistance or allocate your own roof survey professional to assess the imagery. The type of fault would can be reported in terms of severity, as well as other minor notes such as wear, moss growth, birds nests. Read more about our roof inspection service here.