Drone Expo

Drone Expo Aims to Boost Eyes in the Sky

If you want to find out about using unmanned aerial vehicles in construction, you might want to set your sights on the Midwest Drone Expo in Collinsville on October 14 and 15.

“Due to a landmark change in drone regulation, drone usage will explode this year,” said Eric Lee, marketing manager for AerialSync, the St. Louis-based company that has organized the expo. “Construction is one of the industries that will most benefit from drones,” he said.

AerialSync organized the two-day event to help the Midwest catch up with the coasts. “Five thousand companies are using drones, but only about 350 of them are in the Midwest,” Lee said. The figures come from the Federal Aviation Authority, which requires all drone users to register with it.

Carla Rose, CEO of AerialSync, said, “FAA drone airports are all on edges of the US. We need a training center in the Midwest, where construction companies will know that anyone coming out of it knows what they are doing.” AerialSync aims to become that training center. The Drone Expo is a step on that path.

Rose said that drone capabilities for mapping, surveying, and infrared inspection all have applications in construction.

The expo will feature a panel presentation by Tomislav Zigo, director of virtual design and construction at Clayco, two days of talks by Mani Golparvar-Fard, engineering professor at the University of Illinois, and demonstrations by Golparvar-Fard’s students. The expo is designed for Golparvar-Fard and other speakers to present introductory material on Friday and then dive deeper into their topics on Saturday.

Golparvar-Fard led a University of Illinois team that collaborated with Turner Construction to develop “Flying Superintendent,” a predictive visual data analytics tool that combines images captured by drones with building information modeling to quickly identify and communicate performance problems and potential problems during construction.

Among other topics, the drone expo will discuss the benefits for companies to operate their own drones instead of hiring consultants, the newest technology, and how to get a Part 107 remote pilot certificate from the FAA.

The expo will run from 8 am to 4 pm at the Gateway Center in Collinsville on both days. A two-day general admission pass costs $150.

“This is a new industry. Companies will have to take advantage of training to mitigate risk,” Rose said. Local training will be available at the expo and again in a five-day training course that AerialSync plans to hold in January.

“In the near future, companies will have to use drones to be competitive in construction,” Rose said.