In the past decade, the usage of drones in construction has proven that it can take construction quality, productivity and efficiency to new levels. Drones can be used for many jobs such as building or site surveying and progress monitoring. Drones allow site or building surveys to be accomplished up to 400 times quicker than by traditional methods. In order for the usage of drones to push construction efficiency and effectiveness to new levels, the regulations for drones needs to change. Currently, Commercial drone usage can only be conducted under the standard regulation of Visual Line of Sight (VLOS). This means that a professional pilot must be present at the job site to fly the drone so as to keep it in direct, unaided sight at all times.
The VLOS regulation is hampering the usage of commercial drone operations in several ways. Not only is there the expense and dependence on ensuring a professional pilot is present, there is also the limitation of the skill or care of the pilot that could degrade the findings, but also there is the restriction that the drone must be kept in direct sight the entire time. For this method of operation to expend, there are many who are pushing for the approval of Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations which will allow drone usage to take that next step and expand this beneficial program.
BVLOS operations have only been approved for a one-off basis, in R&D projects but there have been plans in development for the last three years, that will hopefully provide a solution for this problem. From this month the expansion into live trials of the possible BVLOS solution have started, aided by funding from UK Research & Innovation. This exciting trial hopes to provide solid grounds and evidence to help bring about change in the regulations for commercial drone usage, so that in the near future, the incredible opportunities that drones offer can be better taken advantage of.