Cape Town: Following the devastating mountain blaze that raged through the University of Cape Town (UCT) campus and surrounding areas, insurance companies have sought the assistance of leading legal drone operator, UAV Industries, a UCT alumni owned and managed company, to inspect the overall fire damage and provide essential information to determine the total value of the loss.
Commercial drone pilots are conducting a 3D survey of all damaged structures using HD and thermal photogrammetry, an application whereby drones capture a large number of high-resolution photos over a specific area. They are also carrying out internal 3D mapping of the damaged buildings, using light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensors, which will enable loss adjusters to do a ‘walk-through’ of all properties in order to determine and quantify the extent of the damage. Finally, they will complete a full site survey of the upper campus as well as parts of the middle and lower campus, assessing damage to the surrounding roofing structures.
The on-site team, which includes LIDAR and 3D mapping scanners, drone pilots and data experts, should complete both aerial and internal scanning within approximately three days. At this point, the captured data is processed, and a final report drawn up and signed off by a civil engineer. The report will indicate the repair methodology, where possible, as well as the size and the severity of each defect measured and quantified.
Drones are a real game-changer in the survey and mapping industry, according to UAV Industries operations executive, Braam Botha. “Without drone technology to assist with the insurance claim process, the full size and complexity of the loss would be much more difficult, timely and costly to measure.” Traditional survey methods would require additional infrastructure such as scaffolding and cranes, and greater human intervention, which would pose an increased risk to personnel. On top of this, the resulting data would also be a lot more limited in its detail and take longer to complete delaying any follow-on work needed or being able to release the campus back to the students.
“With the data captured by drone,” he continues, “we are able to create 3D models of the existing structures, convert these into CAD models used by the architects and engineers, in order to indicate which parts of the buildings can remain and what resources will be needed to rebuild or restructure – all to an extremely high level of accuracy.”
Richard von Seidel, UAV Industries Chairman and Director and a UCT Alumni, adds: “While it was devastating for South Africans – students and non-students alike – to watch our beloved university burn, we are very proud to be part of the team that is assisting in its rebuild. Despite the ongoing challenges faced by the drone industry in South Africa, there is still so much potential for drone tech to help businesses of all shapes and sizes increase their operational efficiency and excellency. UAV Industries continues to champion the change we want to see within the drone industry and remains engaged with relevant drone regulators and stakeholders to ensure that as an industry we keep moving forwards.”
Dr Sumarie Roodt, Co-Founder of the Tech4Good Lab at UCT says: “Using drones to assist with the fire damage assessment highlights the potential of fourth industrial revolution technologies to make the world a better and safer place.”