EBOOK | ATLAS for Civil Engineering
Incorporating Drone Data Analysis Into Construction Project Management
The construction industry is becoming more and more digitized. Drones have proven to be useful at every stage of construction and are driving digital construction further. Drones offer multiple benefits for the construction industry with an always up-to-date digital twin of the construction site, the ability to revise any stage of the development process from the past, and efficient, cost-effective project monitoring tools.

However, building a streamlined workflow for UAV data acquisition and processing is a challenging task. Photogrammetry is only the first step and is covered by many applications in the market, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Typically, you will also need to do many of these additional time-consuming tasks if you want to generate any significant business insights, for example:

● Sharing orthomosaics (interactive drone maps) and elevation mapping with your teammates, clients, subcontractors, etc.
● Comparing the current state of the construction site with the project plan (DXF) from CAD and BIM systems
● Seeing what has changed over time in a particular area of interest.
● Calculating volume measurements and formulating cut and fill reports
● Making accurate DTMs (digital terrain models) by clearing vegetation or manmade objects from DSMs (digital surface models)
● Detecting items on orthomosaics, counting and measuring the size and volume of occupied areas, then exporting PDF reports
● Converting orthomosaics into a plan and exporting the results to tools such as Autodesk Civil 3D, ESRI ArcGIS, etc.

Every step of the process should be backed by a proper tool. We at SPH Engineering understand this very well. That's why many years ago, we introduced our ground control software, which became an industry standard for data acquisition. Our software was built especially for professional drone pilots who work with mixed multi-vendor drone fleets, large-scale surveying projects, complex trajectories, and large elevation differences. In 2020, we complemented the UgCS product family with ATLAS, a platform for automated processing of drone and satellite data, its storage, and sharing. For UgCS users, drone data acquisition, processing, and storage are organized within one environment as a streamlined process.

Let's see how the processing of acquired drone data from construction sites is organized within ATLAS and walk through each step in more detail.
Uploading and Sharing Data
First things first, how does data appear in ATLAS?
You can upload imagery and process orthomosaics in the cloud. Or you can process locally with your favorite tool, like Pix4D, Correlator3D, Metashape, etc., and upload orthomosaics and elevation to ATLAS. ATLAS allows you to structure all data into projects. Each project may contain multiple datasets, where a dataset will result from a drone survey for a specific date. You can configure access to projects for teammates and partners according to the required level of access, from viewer to project manager.

Comparing The Current State of a Construction Site With a Project Plan
The plan-fact analysis is a typical thing for monitoring construction projects. The site manager may want to control the progress for very different processes:

● earthworks
● development of temporary and permanent structures
● vegetation removal
● water resource management
● material placement
● waste management
● and many others.

Typically, this includes comparing orthomosaics with a project plan (DXF file), identifying locations, count, and size of various objects.

Cut and Fill Report
Earthworks are one the most time-consuming and expensive tasks on the construction site, therefore proper control can save a lot of money and time. ATLAS includes a simple yet efficient report for stockpile volume measurement. To use it, upload an accurate elevation model to ATLAS, then easily calculate cut and fill volumes for specified working areas.
Making a True DTM (Digital Terrain Model)
Photogrammetry gives an accurate surface model. However, it includes vegetation and other objects on the terrain surface. ATLAS offers an easy-to-use tool for cleaning DSM and actual DTM generation. First of all, you need to annotate areas with objects selected for cleaning. Use either manual annotation or automatic AI-object detection to select a certain area. Then apply the "DEM interpolation" tool for selected annotations.
Converting Objects on Orthomosaics to Plan and Exporting to Autodesk Civil 3D
Monitoring construction sites and urban planning activities require a lot of object detection and territory segmentation work. You may need to detect object locations and shapes, or count items in a particular area, for example:

● Building footprint detection
● Identifying roads
● Detecting solar panels on roofs
● Detecting pavement, manholes, and road signs.

ATLAS has all the necessary tools for highly efficient object annotation. Easily annotate data with the semi-automatic “magic wand“ tool, which helps select large areas of uniform territories. You can also train your AI-object detector for greater project performance.

ATLAS integrates seamlessly with other GIS and CAD software. It is possible to export all vector layers (either manually created or generated by our AI) to DXF format with a selected coordinate system and projection. ATLAS has a simple yet powerful tool to simplify complex polygons and export fewer points.

Detecting Concrete and Asphalt Defects
Timely identification of defects on asphalt roads, concrete pavements, or other structures is an integral part of objects' life cycle. Quickly detecting road damage is an integral stage in construction. Many types of defects have recognizable features. Thus, you can use ATLAS to detect many of them, like alligator cracking, block cracking, longitudinal cracking, transverse cracking, edge cracks, potholes, rutting.

Visit ATLAS public Use Case with real dataset and the results of detection »»»