A drone program for real estate — here’s how it could save lives

Real estate entrepreneurs hope this technology lowers the number of fatal falls on construction sites

(Credit: iStock)
(Credit: iStock)

In 2016, falls resulted in 384 of 991 construction worker deaths in the United States, according to federal government figures. But some entrepreneurs are proposing a new tool for construction inspections that could lower the number of worker fatalities: drones.

The New York Times reported that the drones are being put to work on construction projects worldwide, safely taking care of quality-control and inspection jobs in place of human workers. The trend coincides with a rise in drone sales, which increased 33 percent year-over-year in 2017, according to market research firm NPD Group.

Mike Winn, CEO of San Francisco company DroneDeploy, told the Times drones are now taking care of roof measurements needed for solar panel installations, a job that use to require a person precariously stretching out a tape measure while trying to stay balanced on the top of a home or building. And John Murphy Jr., a contractor on the 58-story Paramount Miami Worldcenter condominium project in Miami, said use of drones means fewer workers are dangerously going out on the side of buildings on platforms hanging from cables.

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“We’re definitely limiting the exposure to workers,” Murphy told the Times.

Not everyone is sure drones can solve all of real estate’s dangers and inefficiencies, however. Drones used by property insurers in South Florida have led to heaps of improper repair estimates, creating a massive backlog of reopened claims. [NYT] — Will Parker