Milone & MacBroom Celebrates National Aviation Day!

Aug 19, 2018

Written by James Murac, PE, CFM

In honor of Orville Wright’s birthday and National Aviation Day, Milone & MacBroom (MMI) is excited to share progress made in the development of our newly established Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) division. In 2016, MMI began investing in UAS equipment, software, training, and certification in technology, unlocking a cost-effective way to provide site assessment, photo documentation, and site investigation from the air.  Currently, four MMI team members are licensed through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate UAS (aerial drones) for commercial purposes in the United States airspace. 

MMI drones are being used to collect up-to-date orthophotogrammetry, providing up-to-the-minute aerial imagery at much higher resolutions than traditional satellite photographs.  The same data can also be processed into 3-D models, creating point clouds of millions of highly accurate data points.  These models have been used for volume computations, as well as contour and Digital Elevation Models (DEM) generation in support of hydraulic modeling and construction plan development.

Floodplain modeling using drone-captured topography.

Our drones are also finding their way onto dangerous post-disaster or hard-to-reach sites, allowing MMI staff to photo document otherwise inaccessible areas quickly and safely.  Photo and video documentation of any area visible to the sky is possible with ease.  Drones’ fast deployment ability and wide-area range are perfectly suited for post-flood and post-disaster reconnaissance efforts.

"The UAS drone flight allowed MMI to obtain quick and accurate topography of the numerous aggregate stockpiles at the former Willard Concrete site.  Conventional survey methods would have been time consuming if not dangerous with the instability of material on many of the piles.  The information from the drone flight will be used to quantify the amount of material available for grading and reuse of aggregate materials for access roads, pad foundations, etc. in conjunction with a proposed PV Solar project on the site." Michael R. Gagnon, PE.

MMI intends to be on the forefront of UAS technology as it develops and matures.  Advances in airspace regulation through federal initiatives such as the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) and advances in detection capabilities such as LIDAR are constantly providing new and innovative ways to leverage drones in the design and construction industry.  MMI is committed to learning how to continue to leverage these budding technologies to change the way we approach traditional data collection efforts.