Railway UAV Surveying

Drone footage of Wilmslow train station roof.

The benefits of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Surveys are widely recognised within the rail sector. Drone technology is capable of surveying a large area of land quickly, safely, and from incredible heights; revealing valuable insights into the geography of an area of land.

Railway UAV surveying is highly cost-effective; typically only requiring a single operator which is certainly not the case with a manual survey. Surveys themselves can be conducted quickly, with our drones reaching speeds of up to 40mph. This surveying and mapping option is proving to be an extremely popular precursor to large-scale drainage work, where manually searching along large pipes to identify leaks and damage is impractical.

At UKDN Waterflow, we use state-of-the-art surveying and mapping software to capture data through a drone survey and create visualisations from it that enable smart decisions to be made around how construction, repair and maintenance work should take place. These visualisations give us an understanding of where issues lie in existing rail infrastructure, and determine which part of a landscape is safe and optimal to build on from a drainage perspective.

Utilising these techniques saves money both short-term and long-term as it reduces the likelihood that rehabilitation or reconstruction work will be required later down the line. Contact us if you’re in need of UAV surveying work, or looking to learn more about this modern solution to rail drainage issues.

Our UAV Surveying Service:

  • Consultation

Our friendly experts will explain the UAV surveying process, gaining an understanding of the scope of the problem you require assistance with and identifying how a drone survey can help deliver a solution. We’ll agree a timescale, dates and price before work begins.

  • Surveying work

Trained and registered drone operators conduct surveying work, inspecting infrastructure and identifying potential causes of drainage issues or damage in line with the survey’s objective.

  • Reporting

We analyse the survey data and design/advise a solution or range of solutions.

Drone footage of Lanes Group Slough depot roof with thermal imaging.

The advantages of UAV Surveying

In the drainage world, drones are man’s best friend. Identifying leaks and cracks within a drainage pipe is made far easier by having a fast, small and portable drone flying around doing the scanning for you. Our drones utilise UV scanning and laser scanner technology, which can identify problems from a great range, and with a high degree of precision. They’re perfect for identifying problems with hard-to-reach structures too, such as culverts or watercourses.

When exactly we can use a UAV for surveying and mapping can be affected by the weather, as drones may struggle to operate under extreme weather conditions. We take this into account when planning for surveying work, and strive to be flexible with our times to ensure we can deliver a solution that meets your needs. Contact us if you’re looking to schedule a survey.

UAV Surveying FAQ

How accurate are UAV surveying methods?

Independent studies indicate that UAV surveys can measure with a high level of precision – operating within a few cm’s worth of accuracy for a high altitude, fast flight. Lower altitudes and speeds would yield near perfect results so in terms of accuracy, traditional surveying methods are not comparable to UAV surveys.

Can drones legally be flown on my site?

Anyone flying a drone weighing between 250g and 20kg in the UK must register as a drone operator with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and pass a free online test which is accompanied by an education package.

All drone operators employed by UKDN Waterflow have commercial drone licenses, and adhere to the CAA’s Drone Code, which outlines the fundamental regulations any drone flown in the UK must follow. Our pilots utilise high-tech geolocation apps, such as NATS Drone Assist, to ensure that drones do not risk flying too close to restricted air space. Safety is a core value at the heart of our drone operations at UKDN, and we review sites before beginning our work.

Generally speaking, if your site isn’t an airport or directly next to one, we’re likely able to operate without special permissions.

Are drone pilots qualified?

Yes. To operate legally in the UK, we ensure that all of our drone pilots are certified with a PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations) certificate from the Civil Aviation Authority. This enables our pilots to utilise a full range of technical equipment that allows us to gain geotechnical insights that are beyond the scope of a manual survey.

If you think that a UAV survey may benefit your business, whether through identifying issues with an existing piece of rail infrastructure or by properly planning for upcoming construction work, contact our experts at UKDN for a free consultation.