Canadian Contractor

Alec Caldwell   

First drone flies over downtown Edmonton construction site!

Canadian Contractor

A drone operated by a Calgary firm flew over two construction sites in Edmonton, to shoot video footage for a documentary. How long will it be before building sites are routinely monitored by drones?

DroneI first wrote about drones on this site two years ago, “Will drones soon be used to spy on illegal construction sites?

Well, I’m not sure about the spying aspect, but the flight of drones over Canadian construction sites is now a reality.

In January this year, aerial services provider Skymatics, based in Calgary, sent a drone flight over a downtown Edmonton construction site. The drone (UAV or “unarmed aerial vehicle”) flew over the Rogers Place Arena and the Walterdale Bridge. The purpose of the 15-minute flight was to produce a video document of the progress on the construction project.

Commercial drone use in Canada is not new. A B.C company called Accuas has been operating a fleet of drones since 2007. They are used for surveys and mapping for a variety of industries, including engineering, mining, waste management, oil and gas and agriculture.


But based on the Edmonton flight, are we a step closer to having regulatory agencies use drones to spy on construction sites? Theoretically, inspectors could do their jobs via drones, just as police forces throughout North America are using drones for surveillance activities.

Will we see the provincial ministries of transport introduce drones to monitor trucks and trailers? Will ministries of labour use drones to monitor worker safety? Drones have become more powerful in recent years, using stabilized cameras, night vision, and with much greater range in terms of time in the air and distance travelled. Newer versions come with built-in GPS systems.

Drones are easy to purchase, but legally Transport Canada makes them subject to strict licensing approvals, with safety parameters. In addition, drone use has to comply with all municipal, provincial and territorial laws – and especially laws related to trespassing and privacy. Of course, those on the wrong side of the law are already embracing drone technology.

For example, in the first five months of this year, there were nine attempts  to use drones to infiltrate prisons in England and Wales. According to the British Ministry of Justice, amongst the drones intercepted, some were carrying mobile phones and drugs.

If you hear of any drone use related to legal activities, like construction, please let us know and we will report it to our readers.

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1 Comment » for First drone flies over downtown Edmonton construction site!
  1. John Bleasby says:

    Also read my article on drones from Canadian Contractor on-line last month…

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