Engineering, project management, and construction titan Bechtel, www.bechtel.com, Houston, Texas, has been granted permission for commercial use of UAS (unmanned aircraft system) technology by the United States FAA (Federal Aviation Admin.), www.faa.gov, Washington, D.C. The permission allows Bechtel to operate UAS technology—also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or drones—on projects in the United States to enhance construction processes within the virtual project delivery approach.

“The use of UASs is crucial to continued innovation in engineering and construction,” says Mike Lewis, manager of construction, Bechtel. “We teamed with Skycatch to explore innovative ways of integrating drones into our execution systems, particularly on the megaprojects Bechtel is building around the world. This technology helps improve safety and quality of project delivery by providing realtime data and analysis to project teams so they can act in a timely manner.”

Skycatch, www.skycatch.com, San Francisco, Calif., is a platform for capturing data using small autonomous aerial robots. The technology gathers realtime data and provides data analytics to improve efficiency of construction on large and complex projects. Skycatch uses a patented automated power system that automatically recharges during operation, allowing drones to fly extended periods of time. The system can carry a variety of sensors like high-definition cameras, infrared scanners, thermal sensors, and radiation monitors.

Bechtel, which relates that the companies proved the technology’s viability at one of the largest LNG (liquefied natural gas) projects in Australia, will use the technology to collect realtime environmental data—such as air quality and temperature—to ensure safe operation of projects, to survey difficult and inaccessible terrain, and to track realtime construction progress.

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