Industry News

The Rise of Drones in Construction

June 7, 2018

This past year, more than 30,000 users put DroneDeploy to work creating the largest drone data repository — now with over 400,000 maps of job sites, farms, and structures. Our growth is a testament to the growing community of commercial drone users.

The construction industry has seen the most growth in the last year, followed by mining and agriculture.

While dozens of industries use drones, the fastest growing commercial adopter is the construction industry. Drone use on the job site has skyrocketed in the last year — surging 239% — and construction is now the leading sector using DroneDeploy.

With growth like that, you probably have some questions. How are companies putting drones to work? Who exactly is benefiting from drone data? And what are the results?

In this post, we share some recent insights uncovered from analyzing the latest DroneDeploy user data. Read on to get the most recent trends and statistics from drone data captured on 400,000 job sites in 180 countries.

Who’s Using Drones on the Job Site?

We talk a lot about what’s possible with drones on our blog, but who is actually taking advantage of the technology?Project managers, technology managers, and superintendents are the top roles benefiting from drone data to date.

Superintendents, technology managers, and project managers lead the pack, using drones in day-to-day workflows on the job site.

It’s no surprise that project managers are leading the charge to bring drones to the job site. The typical project runs over budget, behind schedule. Drones help close the gap.

How are Drones Put to Work in Construction?

Builders use drones to collect real-time data about projects and understand what’s happening on site. Aerial insights improve progress tracking and help catch problems early — before they become costly or add weeks to a project’s timeline.

But progress tracking is far from the only way construction companies use drones. By spending less than an hour each week mapping a job site, contractors gain access to an unprecedented amount of knowledge about nearly every aspect of their project. With this data in hand, DroneDeploy’s software makes it easy to plan, communicate, and keep projects on schedule.

Drones change the game in communication. A [drone] photo is worth a thousand words, and potentially millions of dollars.

- Ryan Moret, Field Solutions Manager, McCarthy Building Companies

How are Construction Companies Benefitting from Drones and Aerial Data?


Drones do more than improve communication and help keep projects on track. They also increase safety, save time and resources, fast-track surveying, and deliver accurate measurements. We surveyed our construction customers to see exactly how use drones on the job site. Here are the top results.

We reached out to our construction customers earlier this year, and they reported a wide range of benefits from using drones. Explore the infographic below for the complete breakdown of the results.

We saw what was a 2–3 week and several tens of thousands of dollars process become a 1–4 day process with only a couple of thousands of dollars invested in equipment and software. When you’re looking at dramatic 75% or greater cost and time improvement, it’s really powerful.

- Hunter Cole, Innovation and Operational Technology, Brasfield and Gorrie General Contractors

What Software Tools are Construction Pros Using with Drone Data?

While thousands of construction customers use DroneDeploy on a weekly basis to collect, process, and analyze drone data, added value comes from incorporating maps and 3D models into existing planning, design, and management workflows.

The leading software tools used by DroneDeploy’s construction customers.

So what other tools are construction pros using to amplify the power of their drone data? Here’s a breakdown of the leading software that our customers regularly use in conjunction with drone maps and models.

How Accurate is Drone Data Captured on the Job Site?

As construction companies turn to drones for aerial data collection, we’ve seen a rise in the demand for higher data accuracy. Today, companies are using ground control points (GCPs) — ground markers measured with GPS to calculate absolute global positioning — more than ever before with DroneDeploy. The number of maps processed with GCPs grew 5X in 2017 and is currently increasing at a rate of 20% each month.

Measurements are also more common with construction customers. Construction companies use DroneDeploy’s built-in analysis and annotation tools to calculate area, volume, and distance accurately. Exactly how accurate are drone measurements? Using GCPs, customers achieve 99% accuracy. Learn more in our white paper: Linear Measurement Accuracy of DJI Drone Platforms and Photogrammetry.

Phantom 4 Pro map measurement variance with and without the use of ground control points (GCPs).

What are companies measuring? Stockpiles are some of the most common things measured with drones on the job site. In 2017, DroneDeploy users measured more than 300,000 stockpiles to estimate value and track volume changes over time.

These are just a few of the highlights from our recent report. To learn more about the rise of drones in construction, download a free copy of the Commercial Drone Industry Predictions eBook.

Using DroneDeploy construction customers can accurately measure stockpile volumes on the job site.

Where to Learn More

  • New to using drones for construction project management? Download our free introductory eBook to learn more.
  • Watch our webinar to hear how Chasco Constructors uses drones to track progress on 17 job sites in Texas.
  • See how Choate Construction leveraged drones to keep a 550,000 square-foot project on track and save $7,700 in the process.
  • Drones helped Key Construction save money, stay ahead of emerging issues, and salvage a subcontractor relationship on a $10 million project. Read the case study.

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