The roof is an important part of a structure, which often goes through wear and tear. But we only think about it when something is wrong since a damaged roof is an expensive affair.
Maintaining the health of a roof requires periodic maintenance. But there is no fixed number of how often you should do the maintenance since it depends on multiple environmental factors.
Why are Roof Inspections Important?
Apart from being part of routine maintenance, roof inspections are done for the following reasons:
- To ascertain the value of a property.
- Estimate the cost of repair.
- To validate claims of damage due to a natural disaster, for insurance purposes.
- To assess the suitability for the installation of solar panels.
Best Method for Roof Inspection
Drones are rapidly becoming popular for roof inspections because aerial inspections are fast and cheap, and drones can do the job without putting anyone’s life at risk.
Why Drones are the Best Tool for Roof Inspections
Historically, roof inspections were done by climbing onto a roof and walking around, or by observation from the ground level. Clearly, these traditional methods of roof inspection have many challenges, such as:
- If a human observer climbs onto a roof, the observer has to risk his/her physical safety, due to steep angles, slippery slopes, and difficult to reach places.
- It is highly unlikely that an observer will thoroughly cover every inch of a roof through manual observation.
- It is difficult to assess water damage through naked eyes.
- Manual inspections are time-consuming, effort-intensive, and costly.
Drones, on the other hand, can overcome most/all of the above disadvantages. For roof inspections, drones are:
- Safer: A pilot controls the drone from a safe location.
- More efficient: A drone can cover a large area relatively quickly.
- Better at reaching inaccessible places: Small drones are nimble and can maneuver in all directions.
- Less dependent on manpower: A single operator can manage a fleet of drones.
- Better in capturing visual data: A drone can be equipped with thermal sensors to detect water damages; these images can then be converted into 3D maps using special software.
- Autonomous: For inspecting a large area, drones can be automated using a fleet management system.
Remote Drone Roof Inspection – A Way of the Future
It often happens that a structural expert may not be present during an inspection, and the drone pilot records the video of the roof and sends it later to the expert. In such cases, it’s not uncommon for the drone pilot to receive a request for refilming the roof since he/she might have missed a spot or filmed the wrong section. Such refilming activities are time-consuming and costly and can be prevented through remote drone roof inspections.
In a remote drone roof inspection, a pilot flies a drone over a roof and send the live-video directly to an expert(s) sitting hundreds of kilometers away. This way the expert(s) can instruct the drone pilot to take the drone to places of his/her interest for a better inspection.
Such kind of capability is available in software solutions like FlytNow, which is a cloud-based application that enables drone video streaming and fleet management.
How Does FlytNow Work?
FlytNow provides a web-based dashboard to control and manage multiple drones. Drones communicate with FlytNow over the internet via an Android application; the application is installed on a mobile device and it is connected with a drone’s RC (remote controller), which in turn connects the drone with FlytNow. For EVLOS/BVLOS (extended/beyond visual line of sight) flights, an SBC (single board computer) can be installed on a drone with FlytOS that can connect the drone to FlytNow using 4G/LTE/5G networks without the need for an RC.
How FlytNow Facilitates Remote Drone Roof Inspection
FlytNow supports live streaming of low-latency HD video, onto the dashboard from drones connected to the system. While conducting a roof inspection, a drone pilot can view the video footage from the web-based dashboard, giving him/her the advantage of a bigger screen experience. The pilot can also stream video from multiple drones on a single dashboard, which is useful when managing multiple inspections in parallel.
In FlytNow, live-video footage can be securely shared with anyone. An expert(s) sitting hundreds of miles away can conduct a remote roof inspection by asking the pilot to share the live-stream via an email. This way a pilot can share his/her screen with anyone simply through an email.
In the enterprise version of FlytNow, video footage can be stored in a remote server. This is useful to maintain a digital record of all the inspections.
Other Features of FlytNow for a Better Roof Inspection
Apart from data collection, FlytNow has built-in AI-based detection features that can be used in conjunction with a thermal sensor to identify cracks and water damage.
FlytNow offers advanced mission planning that can be used to create way-points (using drop-pins) across a roof; a drone can then follow them autonomously while capturing visual data. This feature is especially useful for roofs spread across a large area; it allows a drone operator to focus on the video, rather than worrying about flying the drone.
In the enterprise edition, the system also supports collision avoidance, to enable a drone to navigate safely over a roof in instances where there may be many obstacles on top of the roof.
In this blog, we learned about the importance and challenges of roof inspections, and how drones are turning out to be an ideal solution for this tough job. We also learned why remote roof inspections are required, and how FlytNow enables a remote drone roof inspection.
About the author – Amartya Gupta
Drone Photography Bible would like to thank Amartya Gupta for submitting this guest article. Amartya is an experienced digital marketer with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry. Currently, working in a drone automation startup called FlytBase, Amartya is a skilled in content marketing, SEO, and marketing automation.
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