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Why You Should Automate Your Site Surveys

Drone software has significantly simplified the site-survey process. Instead of a truck, ladder, tape measure, pen, paper, and the courage to get on a stranger’s roof, survey technicians just need a drone and a tablet. 

And now, you don’t even need to know how to fly the drone; you can just automate the entire flight. But since most of the manual work has been taken out of site surveys, is it really necessary that the drone fly itself? Let’s be honest—what else is left for your survey technicians to do? 

While you can still have a certified drone pilot fly your drones, there are a lot of benefits to automating your drone flights. Here are the top four reasons you should automate drone flights at all your site surveys: 

Less Time Training Survey Technicians 

Just like there are lots of drone options on the market, there are lots of property data and inspection platforms available to integrate with those drones. These platforms help you build digital 3D models, take measurements, and create reports and bids with just one tool. 

But there’s a catch. Before you can do any of those things, your survey technicians must be trained to fly a drone. 

Not only do you need to invest in a drone, but you also have to invest in training and certification programs to ensure your solar site surveyors can effectively and consistently gather property information. 

On the other hand, with IMGING from Loveland Innovations, training and certification programs are much simpler since IMGING automates the drone flight for consistency. Yes, IMGING software flies the drone for you. So, you can either train an army of drone pilots, or you can provide your survey technicians with a tool that flies itself. 

Every drone site survey technician will need an FAA Part 107 license. We like Drone Pilot Ground School’s Part 107 test training. If you buy your drone hardware with us, we include the training in our IMGING Inspection Kit, and start performing site surveys without costly certification and training programs.   

Besides reducing the amount of time needed for drone training, the IMGING Inspection Kit also cuts down on the amount of time you spend researching equipment for your drone program. When launching a solar drone program, you need to consider what type of drone you should purchase, what tablet works best with that drone, what operating system is compatible with your inspection software and drone hardware, etc. 

But with the IMGING Inspection Kit, all those decisions are made for you based on the industry’s most trusted products. Here’s what the package includes: 

  • Compatible DJI Drone and Controller (Mavic 2 Series, Phantom 4 Pro, or coming soon Mavic 3 Enterprise) 
  • Online Part 107 training 
  • 9.7” Apple iPad (optional) 
  • 3 additional batteries 
  • Battery charging hub 
  • Car charging adapter 
  • 1 full set of extra propellers 
  • Memory card 
  • Carrying case 
  • 12” Lightning cable 
  • DJI Lanyard 
 

Easier Hiring and Lower Cost Programs 

There is currently a drone pilot shortage. According to the 2021 Drone Market Sector Report— which based its results on 1,800 respondents in 39 industries across 110 countries—one of the biggest challenges facing drone service providers is “difficulty finding pilots.” 

The biggest challenge for drone service providers used to be access to waivers and airspace. Those problems are solved, but now they can’t get people to pilot their drones even if they have permission to fly them. 

So, if you’re using solar inspection software that requires a survey technician to manually pilot the drone, you have three options: 

Option 1: Unlikely 

Hire someone who has already passed their Part 107 test or has a Remote Pilot Certificate. 

Option 2: Time Consuming 

Provide training for new hires so they can pass their Part 107 test or get their drone pilot’s license through some other training for manual drone flights.

Option 3: Expensive 

Outsource your solar inspections out to freelance drone pilots or service networks. This is expensive as it these companies are making a profit on what should be a low-cost solution for you.

Without automated drone-based solar inspections, you are stuck trying to find qualified drone pilots, spending a lot of time training new employees on manual flight patterns, or draining your budget on expensive independent drone pilots. 

If you want to simplify your hiring process, automated drone flight is a no-brainer. When hiring new solar site surveyors, you just need to train them on how to use the app that flies the drone and be sure they receive a FAA license to do so. Setting up a flight on the IMGING app takes about 90 seconds, then the survey technician just watches the drone do the hard work of capturing property images and measurements. 

Of course, if you happen to have a licensed drone pilot on your team, you can always manually fly the drone if you need additional images of a property. But since the IMGING app is very thorough in its data collection, you probably won’t need additional photos. 

More Consistent Site Surveys 

While IMGING technology is based on AI and deep learning, which is meant to mimic human intelligence and actions, it is able to pilot a drone and perform a site survey without any human error. 

Yes, humans are great, but we’re still … human. We make mistakes despite our best intentions and training. And because survey technicians are human and thus imperfect, they’re bound to be inconsistent when capturing images and taking measurements. And achieving consistency and accuracy in an automated manner is where you will reduce your creation costs by cutting redesigns and improving your bottom line.

More Comprehensive Property Data 

Comprehensive and reliable property data is essential during a site survey. Before anyone gets on the roof, your solar installers need to have all the necessary information to ensure they are prepared for a successful and efficient solar install. 

By using drones equipped with high-resolution cameras, each site survey includes dozens of ultra-high-res images of the roof and property. These images are then used to create measurements, map penetrations, and auto-generate 3D models. 

IMGING software is also designed to detect specific signs of damage on roofs. With an automated drone flight, you’re sure to get all the images you need to communicate potential roofing needs and solar PV array designs with customers. 

With a manual drone flight, there’s a chance your drone pilot won’t capture the images you need to create accurate 3D models, identify roof damage, or take precise property measurements. Or if they do, it will be done inconsistently and require large training programs in advance. While the IMGING app is programmed to collect comprehensive data, your survey technician may not have the experience or training to be able to collect all the necessary property data. 

Conclusion 

While flying a tiny quadcopter sounds like a lot of fun, if you’re running a business that requires speed and efficiency to be successful, an automated drone flight is the only way to go. Not only do automated drone flights provide more consistent and comprehensive data, it also reduces time on site, decreases technician training time, and simplifies your hiring process. 

To learn more about how IMGING can automate your drone flights and simplify your site surveys, check out Loveland Innovations today. 

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