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44 T he past several decades have seen the construction industry facing growing problems with productivity andsafety hazards, which have squeezed profit margins and hampered the growth of firms in the sector. One reason for this has been the industry’s poor adoption of new technologies to improve labour productivity and cut operating costs. However, some companies in the unmanned systems sector have developed solutions for bringing autonomy to construction work, to help enhance the output per worker and keep them out of harm’s way. Marking construction sites One of the most time-consuming initial tasks at a construction site is setting out markers – stakes driven into the ground to help labourers know where they and the critical project coordinates are, without carrying GNSS devices. Usually this is done by surveyors on foot, using a handheld GNSS device to check their position before manually inserting markers into the ground, but that’s labour-intensive and time-consuming. Israeli start-up Civdrone, for example, has therefore developed a UAS that places these markers autonomously, enabling a single operator to do a job that typically takes four to six survey workers to do in the same amount of time. “It also gives more flexibility, as a site might need 200 markings one day, then 500 the next,” says Tom Yeshurun, CEO and co-founder of Civdrone. “You can’t be sure how many surveyors to hire – if you bring in too many, you’re wasting money; too few and you get bottlenecks. Our system can put down 500 stakes per day, with just one operator overseeing it all.” The hexacopter UAV has been custom- built using parts from different companies around the world. “We couldn’t find a ready- made multi-rotor with an airframe that gave us the right rigidity and dust-proofing for landing up to 500 times per day, as well as the carrying capacity we wanted while The construction industry is proving rich ground for autonomous systems, reports Rory Jackson , who highlights some of the key solutions Sights on sites December/January 2020 | Unmanned Systems Technology This UAV from Civdrone is designed to be deployed autonomously up to 500 times a day, positioning and placing stakes for site marking with RTK-GNSS accuracy (Courtesy of Civdrone)