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Jack Brown, our first unmanned aerial vehicle operator, discusses his role at Hollis and his thoughts on what the future holds for drones, digital data capture and surveying technology.

My job in the coming years

Technology is always changing, so I expect my job to evolve alongside the technology. Looking forward, I see my daily tasks involving creating videos for various clients, creating virtual tours, flying over large areas of land capturing topographical surveys and carrying out detailed roof inspections. In the future, I hope to manage a team of pilots gathering data that we can use to keep delivering the best services possible.

What’s next for the drone surveys and data capture service?

For the drone team at Hollis, the future lies in using technology to solve real problems, and that has never been more critical right now during the COVID-19 pandemic. Capturing data remotely is what drones and 360 cameras do best. As face-to-face contact becomes obsolete for the time being, using drones to carry out inspections from a distance can provide a safe and effective alternative to in-person inspections.

Drone technology has the potential to make surveying exponentially safer. Using cherry pickers to survey roofs has always been a dangerous and expensive route, but until recently, it’s been the only option. By replacing surveyors on cherry pickers with drones, we’re able to give a better picture of the roofs we survey to our clients, and don’t need to put a surveyor in harm’s way. I expect a lot of my role in the future will be focused on coming up with solutions like these, that solve a problem and help the industry.

We’re currently working on new and innovative ways of capturing, modifying and manipulating data, and I see this aspect of my work becoming a very large part of my role. We are now implementing 3D tours and topographical surveys, so we’re well on our way to creating technology that will allow us to initially survey a site without ever having to leave the building.

What’s going to be the next big innovation in surveying?

I’m always thinking about new ways to improve what we do with technology. Personally, I think that virtual reality will be the next big thing to hit surveying. There is so much scope for development, and with the increasing camera quality and ability to capture data, it seems like a natural next step. It’s amazing to think that one day it could be possible to give a client virtual reality goggles and take them through comprehensive site tours without ever having to leave the building.

In addition to VR, I also see a lot of scope for artificial intelligence, combining robotics with drones and creating a product that can do more than just take pictures. You then have a machine that will aid construction of roof repairs – considerably saving on costs, hazards and man hours. The thought alone is industry-changing.

Jack Brown
UAV Operator
T: +44 7471 038379