Weekly Construction Chatter #2: Using Drones

Weekly Construction Chatter #2: Using Drones
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This is a weekly series of discussion posts centered on various industry topics, and we are calling it our Weekly Construction Chatter! This will be a reoccurring event where the Community can come together to discuss a specific topic or theme where everyone is encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas. To engage with a weekly discussion series, you can actively listen to others and contribute by asking questions, commenting, and sharing your own experiences and insights. Respecting others' opinions and contributing to a positive and inclusive atmosphere are important.


💬 Weekly Construction Chatter #2


Drones have become an increasingly popular tool for reality capture, offering a cost-effective and efficient way to gather data and images from various locations. 


How are you using drones today? Are you using them for reality capture in your work? If so, do you have drone pilots on staff, or do you use drone service providers? What safety or legal regulations are you having to consider?

10 replies

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I am not currently using drones.  In the past I have only used them for performing a 3D scan analysis of how much soil would need to be removed from a site to bring it to the grade we needed for foundations.  Was pretty accurate (under 5% off) very useful for buying the excavation/landscaping package.

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@Gerard O'Donnell Thanks for sharing about your past experience with drones. It sounds like they were a real asset in your excavation and landscaping project! I'm curious, have you thought about utilizing drones for other future purposes?

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@Krystal Wu would love to, but on my projects in NYC it is pretty difficult to use them.  Even just getting a site that is outside of the various airport restrictions is kind of luck if the draw.

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@Gerard O'Donnell Ah right, airport restrictions! Well, it can definitely be a hurdle, but it's great to hear that you're still interested in utilizing them on your projects. Hopefully one day!

Hi there 

I am new to openspaxce and started using it now to provide a service to my client that has multiple construction sites near where I live. It also gives me evening access to the yards to experiment and try out some new methods and capturing .

I just bought the insta Sphere and was going to experiment a bit with it. So in essence I could film the whole front and rear facade of a 8 story high project with it and the roof , is that right? It will also come in handy after a concrete pour.

My doubt is if I were to use the Mavic air2 to map a daily route on each level of the construction and in the garage underground sections, the drone will not have gps contact, so how will the tour show up n the project? For this reason I was looking into the Parrot ANAFI Ai that has a G4 connection and indoor mapping capabilities.

I want to apply at parrot enterprise dicvision for a loan program to see if we can actually use the drone indoors . I will also have to look for a camera attachment on this drone for my insta 360 RS one as the sphere probably won't fit the parrot. Any suggestions from your side?

One of my drones is the Mavic 3 T enterprise with the thermal camera, besides checking for leaks, solar panel and rooftop inspections are there any other surveys or inspections u could find use for the thermal camera in construction?

Best Regards



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Hey @Yves_Yron, welcome and thank you for your support!
You should be able to capture both the front and rear facade with the Insta Sphere, and for all other drones you mentioned, you’ll have to source/create a custom mount for your camera. I don't know any brands off the top of my mind, but I have seen teams use makeshift holders (zip ties) and fly around.

It should work fine as long as nothing obstructs the lenses and you don't fly too quickly.

If you got to attend Waypoint yesterday, you might've seen our new vertical navigation. It makes it much easier for you to interact with drone imagery on OpenSpace! 

As for thermal imagery, I can't think of much more than the use cases you shared. Leaks and identifying electrical/ductwork are usually the most common. @Wesley DuBose, speaking from experience, do you have any thoughts on this? I’m also curious to know.

Thanks @Harley for looping me in!


Hi @Yves_Yron, I have a couple of things I’d like to address here:

  • You said that you’re worried about the drone cameras not having GPS capabilities. If you are looking to do drone captures with OpenSpace (especially elevation captures), GPS data is not required. We instead rely on other data points from the camera (such as the accelerometer) to map your capture path to the site plan. 
  • If you are doing elevation captures with drones, you can definitely do them in OpenSpace. Just make sure every time you change the side of the building you’re capturing, you stop / start a new capture. For example, if you are doing a 360 capture on the south façade of the building, and you want to do the east façade next, make sure that you complete the video capture for the south façade first, and then start a brand new capture in the OpenSpace app, selecting the east façade plan for the new video. (long story short, every time you switch floor plans in OpenSpace you need to start / stop a new capture)
  • For thermal imaging, the use cases I usually see are to:
    • Identify air / water leaks
    • Identify hot electrical work
    • Make sure that a building is properly sealed.

Happy to elaborate or answer any questions that you feel have not been adequately addressed!


Thank you both,

Harry and Wesley, for taking the time to respond to my questions. Your input is greatly appreciated.


Wesley, you were indeed correct; the software is fully capable of recreating the precise flight path of a drone, even when flown indoors. I conducted a test project in which I uploaded the floor plans of our underground garages, and flew my Mavic3T equipped with an InstaX3 camera.


As the sublevel was -3, there was no GPS, 4G, or Wi-Fi connection available, forcing the drone to rely solely on its vision sensors and my piloting skills. As you predicted, when the captures and tour were uploaded and processed a few hours later, the results showed a clear and accurate flight path (see screenshots).


Flying a drone like the Mavic3T indoors presents numerous challenges, as many factors can lead to accidents. For instance, disabling all obstacle detection and return-to-home (RTH) functions is necessary, or the drone risks crashing into walls or ceilings. Furthermore, windy conditions within construction sites can cause the drone to drift sideways, requiring constant focus and quick reactions to avoid collisions.


Using a Mavic3T indoors, especially in an apartment building construction site, is generally inadvisable due to its size and risk of accidents. A more suitable solution would be planning a repeating autonomous waypoint mission based on floor plans, and utilizing a smaller drone with a compact footprint, solid prop guards, and a turtle mode for autonomous recovery, such as the DJI Avata or the TEAL tactical drone.


I found the Insta Sphere camera to be of poor quality and discarded it after a few flights. The stitching was subpar, the image quality inferior to the Insta360 RS one-inch, and vibrations and glare marred the footage. It is not suitable for producing industry-standard deliverables.


The client I am demonstrating the Openspace platform to is a major construction company specializing in high-end, beachfront luxury apartments. They have several active sites in close proximity, which allows me to easily access the locations and capture 360-degree photos and 3D scans of each utility group per level after working hours. The senior architect evaluating Openspace and its content has expressed no interest in 360-degree video tours, preferring consistent 360-degree photos taken from the same spot for easy comparison during timeline reviews.


The lidar scan app in Openspace does not allow for complete floor scans, so I am utilizing alternative apps such as Polycam, Sitescape, Metascan, Widar, and Reality Scan. These applications offer valuable features, including the ability to continue scanning existing projects. I attach a cleaned-up JPEG of the total scanlike in the attachment below here to a field note at the entrance hall of each level and provide the STL, FBX, or DXF files for their AutoCAD in a shared folder for ease of use.




The client's primary interest lies in scanning and capturing completed work and installations rather than daily site activities. They have expressed a desire for an "exact" measurement feature within the app, similar to the capabilities of the Leica BLK3D or the Vidoc Pix4D RTK rover for iPhone. I have heard that this feature may be added in the future, so I am hopeful.


Recently, I had an enlightening conversation with someone from DJI's enterprise division in China after a seagull attacked my Mavic3T during a mapping mission near the beachfront. Upon contacting DJI's head office, I was connected with engineers who informed me that they are working on a project similar to the ideal drone I had described — a compact drone like the Mini3 Pro or Avata, equipped with a 1-inch sensor 8K 360 camera, capable of autonomous indoor navigation and 360-degree obstacle avoidance. This drone would also feature wireless charging and support for mapping indoor autonomous missions or on-demand remote-controlled BVLOS missions.


While I eagerly await the release of this innovative drone, I have discovered Leica's next-generation BLK line, which offers an impressive range of features and capabilities. Overall, the future of indoor drone navigation and 360-degree capture looks promising. Three newly released products from the Leica BLK product line have caught my attention and landed on my shopping list:


1. Leica BLK360: Although not a new release, the BLK360 is a powerful tool available at a more affordable price than its counterparts. It comes with software licenses for Register360 and Cyclone. If you're unfamiliar with its capabilities, check out these videos:


- Measuring from a picture with the BLK3D:


- BLK360 on-site practical use (laser scanning a house):


- Easy point cloud linking with Register360


2. BLK2FLY: An autonomous LiDAR mapping drone priced at €47,300. Its ease of use and simple cloud-stitching software make it an outstanding product. In comparison, Pix4D, DroneDeploy, and UGCS don't come close to the accuracy and detail provided by the BLK2FLY.


- BLK2FLY video:



3. BLKARC: Priced at €38,700, this product combines the robo-dog SPOT with a BLK360 on its head for autonomous site surveys, 3D scanning, thermal imaging, and LiDAR scanning. It's especially suitable for industrial sites and larger projects.


- BLKARC video:



4. BLK247: An all-in-one survey, security, detection, and CCTV solution.


- BLK247 video:


Next week, I'll be visiting the Paris Airshow with a delegation from the Belgian Drone Federation and Jan Jambin, the Vice-Premier of Flanders. I have scheduled a one-on-one meeting with a regional manager from the Hexagon group, under which Leica operates, to discuss the possibilities of a collaboration or obtaining a demo drone or robo dog for a few months. I'm also interested in exploring how these new technologies can be used with the Openspace platform.


In conclusion, these new products offer exciting potential for the future of surveying and 360-degree capture. I'll be sharing more information about useful accessories i use almost daily when taking 360pics with the Insta360 cameras in a future post.





I did watch the waypoint video’s and i must say i am exited to see the new drone functions, heatmap and measurement functions coming to the platform. That would allready make a product like the BLK3D obsolete.

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Hey Yves, Mehul here, product manager at OpenSpace. I’ve been leading our drone efforts and I appreciate your thoughtful & informative post. As we get closer to releasing new drone capabilities, we’d love to keep you in the loop and perhaps get on the call later on to discuss further details.