Using New Unmanned Aircraft Systems to Capture Precise Imaging

October 24, 2016

Company Enhances Inspection and Data Mapping Services with New Addition to Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Fleet

Michael Baker International expanded its cutting-edge inspection services with the purchase of a Topcon Falcon 8 unmanned aircraft system (UAS). The new Falcon 8 joins the company’s growing UAS fleet and allows Michael Baker pilots to capture highly precise aerial imagery and mapping during the inspection of infrastructure for clients.
Michael Baker used the new UAS to inspect the Liberty Bridge in Pittsburgh.

Features of the new Falcon 8:
  • -Combined with Michael Baker’s mobile and static Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) systems for data collection, the integration of this new UAS creates an even safer, more sophisticated solution for inspection and mapping.
  • -Pilots can capture more-precise imaging and video in tight spaces, challenging environments and windy situations by utilizing the system’s flight stability and high-resolution, 32-megapixel digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera.
  • -The rotary-wing UAS features: eight rotors; three individual inertial measurement units (IMU) to calculate and fix the device’s position; fully automated flight routes in both two- and three-dimensions; precise structure analysis and damage detection; and maximum safety with triple redundancy.
  • -Operating as a two-person team, Michael Baker inspectors—one piloting the flight and the other using 3D goggles for a First Person View (FPV)—can establish unprecedented viewpoints for data-capturing imagery.
  • -The Falcon 8’s integrated thermal camera can monitor for heat loss and thermal leakage in concrete and pipeline inspections and conduct heat surveys of buildings for clients looking to achieve LEED certification. 
“Michael Baker has an extensive history of performing inspections, having literally written the book on bridge inspection training for the Federal Highway Administration,” said Robert Hanson, senior vice president and market leader for Michael Baker’s Geospatial Practice. "As new technologies have emerged, including UAS, the company has been at the forefront of adopting and incorporating those practices into our existing capabilities to enhance our full continuum of innovative solutions. With the purchase of the Falcon 8 UAS, Michael Baker now is one of seven firms in North America to use this system, which allows us to offer an advanced, highly-engineered inspection solution for engineering projects.”
Michael Baker is deploying the new UAS as part of two new contract wins: a statewide contract from the Nevada Department of Transportation for digital aerial imagery and video, and/or other remotely sensed data; and a task order with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for determining the feasibility for use of UAS in bridge inspections and bridge inspection procedures. Additionally, the company will use the system across multiple markets for a host of structural inspection projects, including bridges, buildings, towers, water control systems and retaining walls, among others.