The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted approval for the first nighttime commercial drone operation in the U.S. to SkyBEAM unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Tremco Roofing & Building Maintenance. Toronto-based Industrial SkyWorks developed SkyBEAM in partnership with Tremco Roofing.
Also approved to operate during the day, the SkyBEAM (Building Envelope Aerial Mapping) UAV uses high-definition (HD) video and thermographic (infrared) cameras to locate energy leaks, rooftop damage, deteriorating façades, safety issues, and other potential problems on a building. SkyBEAM’s thermographic camera shows temperature variations around a building that indicate problems, such as poor or missing window sealing or wet rooftop insulation, that can lead to significant capital expenses, increased operating costs, occupant discomfort and other issues.
Infrared scanning is most effective at night, when the sun is not warming the building. Traditional infrared scans require technicians to traverse rooftops at night, while façade inspections dictate working from scaffolding or cranes.
In addition to its infrared scanning capability, SkyBEAM has a high resolution video camera that can read the fine print on a warranty from 50 feet. This camera can map potential building problems, such as gaps or tears in the roof, tiny cracks or movement in the façade, deteriorating concrete, and the need for appropriate rooftop safety equipment. Technicians can then mark problem areas during the day for removal and replacement, or further analysis if necessary.
A highly trained two-person crew, including a licensed pilot, operates the UAV safely on the ground. SkyBEAM can fly horizontally across roofs, or vertically up to 400 feet (approximately 40 stories). It can reach speeds of 25 mph and retain its flight path in winds of up to 25 mph and gusts reaching 50 mph.
Industrial SkyWorks has been operating Tremco Roofing SkyBEAM drones in Canada over the past 18 months. The FAA has now approved the Canadian firm to operate SkyBEAM commercially in the U.S; SkyBEAM is available to Tremco Roofing’s customers through an exclusive relationship with Industrial SkyWorks.
SkyBEAM is ideal for low-slope roofing and façade diagnostics on multi-building campuses such as educational institutions and healthcare facilities. It can also be helpful for those subject to façade inspection ordinances that have become increasingly common as cities such as New York City and Chicago.
Interactive Reporting Shows Building Conditions
SkyBEAM’s software consolidates infrared scans and HD video images into a comprehensive report that facility owners and managers, and their technicians, access through a cloud-based application. The report clearly and accurately shows problem areas, helping decision makers determine their plan of action.
A virtual model of the building is created in 2D and 3D and can be viewed from any angle. The model allows users to overlay thermal images to their exact location on the building. Photographs, comments, and other data can be added in real time through a tablet, including when technicians are on-site, to ensure that work can be verified and that the report has the latest information.
Data can also be transmitted down to those on the roof. Through geo-positioning, technicians can see their exact location in relation to problem areas. As they walk across the roof, the scan moves with them so they can precisely locate where work needs to take place.