June 28, 2024

Flying into Lochmueller Group's Innovative Applications with Drones

Drones (i.e., Unmanned Aerial Systems), once the domain of military reconnaissance and sci-fi fantasies, have seamlessly integrated into our daily lives, reshaping industries and offering innovative solutions to age-old challenges. Often associated with aerial photography, surveillance, or even recreational flying, drones have transcended their initial perception to become indispensable tools across various sectors.

When the term "drone" is mentioned, many conjure images of sleek, buzzing machines hovering in the sky, capturing video or pictures we would not have been able to get before without costly equipment or helicopters. Lochmueller Group has leveraged their versatility to streamline processes, enhance efficiency, and provide cost-effective solutions across various projects.

Lochmueller Group has three primary uses for their fleet: surveying, mapping, and reality capture. The Survey department uses drones and other surveying techniques, such as GNSS receivers, robotic total stations, cellular data collectors, imaging total stations, and scanning devices. Lochmueller utilizes conventional ground surveying methods in conjunction with unmanned aerial system reality capture data collection to create a dense point cloud to generate a contoured surface model from which the volumetric measurements are derived. This creates a much safer and cost-effective method to collect the necessary field data and provides a much more robust data set when compared to traditional ground surveying methods.

Drone software allows our team to produce drone photogrammetry, which is the process of capturing aerial site photos to create a 3D map complete with GPS coordinates and accurate measurements. This accurate site data can cut costs because the visualizations help teams plan their activities and reduce the risk of design errors that may require reworking. The Water Resources department has made great progress in the 3D mapping of the existing state of the Kaiser Aluminum building site to assist in their new design of the facility. On the Young Road Lift Station project, the intersection of Young Road and Green River changed during the design period, and we used the updated drone aerial to see the new changes and plan accordingly. Mapping allows our team to know where to focus leveling, locate flood basins, and anticipate any difficult-to-dig material below the surface, thus saving time and money.

Reality capture is an umbrella term used to describe technologies that are used to capture and record the physical world as digital data. This data can include anything from pictures and videos to 360-degree panoramas and advanced LiDAR scans. Our Environmental Services team uses an RTK Mavic 3E and base station to compile orthomosaics of a number of our mitigation sites. This allows us to represent that year’s aerial into the monitoring reports we submit to INDOT and other agencies. It also allows us to track various aspects of mitigation monitoring and maintenance (construction progress in the construction phase, mowing and invasive treatment monitoring, riverbank stabilization monitoring, and overall maturing of the reforestation and wetland areas of the mitigation sites).

While drones have garnered widespread recognition for their aerial prowess and recreational appeal, their true potential extends far beyond conventional applications. As drones continue to evolve and adapt to diverse challenges, their role in shaping our world for the better is boundless, with forward-thinking companies like Lochmueller Group leading the way towards a more sustainable and interconnected future.

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