With Qatar’s 2022 FIFA World Cup and its National Vision 2030 plan getting closer, the country is already working on a project of a massive scale: contract 2 of the Orbital Highway in the city of Doha, a 14-lane road with 5 vehicle lanes and 2 dedicated truck lanes going in each direction.

Arcadis, a global engineering consultancy in Qatar and lead designer of the Orbital, is helping its client, Qatari Diar Vinci Construction (QDVC), by providing volumetric calculations for the earthwork spread throughout the entire roadway. To achieve this, Arcadis is using drones together with 3DR’s cloud-based software Site Scan, a high-resolution 20.1MP Sony R10C and Autodesk Integration.

After performing a comparison between using the traditional tools or Arcadis drones’ solution, QDVC chose the latter as the results were outstanding. While a traditional survey took 3 hours and captured 197 data points, the drone survey took 20 minutes and captured 1,539,964 points without the use of Site Scan’s ground control points feature, which would have provided even more accurate results.

To learn a bit more about Arcadis’ drone operations and what the company’s plans for the future are, we connected with Innovation and BIM Manager Paul Kawuma.


Commercial UAV News: With how the drone industry is growing, ​it’s ​become ​clear ​how ​superior ​drones ​are, ​compared to ​the ​traditional ​ways ​used ​in ​many ​verticals. ​Arcadis’ ​use ​case ​strengthens ​that point, ​as ​it ​clearly ​shows ​how ​drones ​helped ​speed ​up ​the ​whole ​process. ​What’s your ​opinion ​on ​this ​matter? ​Do ​you ​think ​drones ​are ​the ​future ​for construction ​businesses, ​and ​more?

Paul Kawuma: Clients ​are ​increasingly ​looking ​for ​innovative ​solutions ​that ​can ​help ​them ​to ​deliver ​their construction ​projects ​in ​a ​safer, ​quicker, ​and ​more ​cost-effective ​way ​than ​ever ​before. Embracing ​technology ​and ​new ​ways ​of ​working ​is ​the ​only ​way ​to ​meet ​this ​challenge. ​The use ​of ​drones ​has ​huge ​potential ​to ​disrupt ​some ​of ​the ​more ​traditional ​construction processes ​and ​are ​becoming ​increasingly ​vital ​to ​the ​industry. Government ​institutions ​around ​the ​world ​are ​aware ​of ​their ​benefits ​and ​as ​a ​result ​have enabled ​legislation ​that ​allows ​their ​regulated ​use. ​The ​Orbital ​project ​is ​a ​further ​reminder of ​how ​precision ​and ​efficiencies ​in ​volume ​calculations ​operations ​can ​be ​leveraged ​using drones. ​Furthermore, ​in ​the ​coming ​years, ​the ​advancements ​made ​in ​battery ​technologies and ​machine ​learning ​will ​further ​proliferate ​the ​use ​of ​drones.

Can ​you ​give ​us ​an ​idea ​of ​what ​kind ​of ​projects ​Arcadis participated ​in ​using ​drones, ​and ​how ​they ​gave ​you ​an ​advantage?

Arcadis ​was ​the ​first ​consultancy ​firm ​in ​Qatar ​to ​secure ​the ​authorization ​required ​to ​use UAV ​technology ​for ​engineering ​applications. ​We’ve ​invested ​time ​and ​resources ​to ​develop alliances ​with ​the ​right ​technology ​providers, ​and ​to ​train ​up ​several ​of ​our ​colleagues ​to become ​internationally ​licensed ​pilots. We’ve ​used ​drone ​technology ​on ​several ​client ​projects ​in ​Qatar, ​initially ​testing ​and developing ​workflows ​on ​mega-reservoirs ​across ​the ​country ​and ​then ​commercially ​on ​the new ​Orbital ​Highway. ​We ​are ​currently ​mobilizing ​our ​teams ​for ​other ​infrastructure ​and building ​related ​developments. ​We’ve ​found ​our ​drones ​can ​help ​address ​a ​wide ​range ​of challenges ​that ​clients ​typically ​face ​on ​large-scale ​construction ​projects. ​These ​include ​the following:

  • The ​quality ​of ​the ​scans ​and ​aerial ​imagery ​that ​drones ​can ​provide ​is ​absolutely first-class. ​This ​helps ​to ​reduce ​the ​risk ​of ​incorrect ​decisions ​being ​made ​on ​a project;
  • Using ​a ​drone ​to ​carry ​out ​standard ​survey ​and ​inspection ​activities ​is ​a ​much ​more cost-efficient ​approach ​as ​it ​fast, ​accurate ​and ​overcomes ​site ​access ​issues. ​As ​such the ​use ​of ​a ​drone ​significantly ​reduces ​costs;
  • UAV ​technology ​can ​help ​to ​further ​support ​the ​drive ​towards ​zero ​incidents ​by taking ​away ​some ​of ​the ​risks ​associated ​with ​construction ​activities. ​As ​an ​example, the ​use ​of ​drones ​removes ​the ​need ​for ​people ​to ​work ​at ​heights ​when ​inspecting assets ​like ​bridges, ​which ​are ​often ​hard ​to ​access


You also compared ​Site ​Scan ​with ​Autodesk ​Civil ​3D. ​Do ​you think ​cloud-based ​software ​such ​as ​Site ​Scan ​can ​make ​software ​like ​Civil ​3D ​become obsolete ​for ​this ​type ​of ​use ​cases?

Site ​Scan ​has ​made ​major ​improvements ​in ​terms ​of ​features ​and ​user ​interface, ​further differentiating ​itself ​as ​the ​go-to ​platform ​for ​drone ​data ​cloud ​processing ​and ​storage. However, ​Civil ​3D ​still ​has ​an ​important ​role ​to ​play ​in ​the ​data ​analysis ​workflows, depending ​on ​the ​end ​use ​of ​the ​data. ​The ​tools ​complement ​each ​other ​perfectly: ​Site Scan ​collects ​accurate, ​detailed ​data ​that ​can ​be ​exported ​into ​native ​Autodesk ​file ​formats, and ​Civil ​3D ​helps ​us ​get ​the ​most ​out ​of ​that ​data ​with ​its ​powerful ​features ​and capabilities.

What’s ​Arcadis’ ​plans ​for ​the ​future, ​regarding ​drone ​usage ​on ​your ​projects?

Arcadis ​plans ​to ​continue ​to ​innovate ​and ​implement ​operational ​efficiencies ​that ​improve the ​way ​we ​satisfy ​our ​clients. ​In ​Qatar ​for ​example, ​construction ​activity ​is ​expected ​to ramp ​up ​over ​the ​next ​2-3 ​years ​as ​the ​country ​finalizes ​preparations ​to ​host ​the ​2022 ​FIFA World ​Cup. The ​need ​for ​smarter ​ways ​of ​working ​will ​become ​even ​more ​important. ​Drones ​will ​play ​a fundamental ​role ​in ​ensuring ​that ​the ​local ​construction ​industry ​can ​deliver ​the ​portfolio of ​programmes ​that ​are ​needed ​to ​successfully ​host ​the ​tournament ​and ​to ​deliver ​Qatar’s exciting ​2030 ​National ​Vision.