Shetland Flyer Aerial Media provides aerial video, photography and time lapse services for monitoring progress of BAM Nuttall’s construction site at SSEN Transmission’s HVDC project at Upper Kergord, Shetland. The weekly visits capture drone footage of the construction progress, as well as interactive 360º panoramas of the site and surrounding area, displayed on a secure web application.

The installation of a 5G network now means video, stills and panorama material can be accessed live. Previously processing of the images delayed delivery to BAM Nuttall’s project team until the day after the site visit. The construction process is fast and dynamic, so the footage was already historic when delivered to the client. Now it will be delivered, using 5G, in real time.

Earlier this year BAM Nuttall was awarded funding from the Government’s 5G Create programme, along with eight other projects, to test the full benefits of 5G and help industries capitalise on the power of modern technology. Installing a private 5G superfast secure network at the Kergord site, allows rapid data exchange with designers and people working outside Shetland, supporting collaboration, and improving productivity. Ultimately, it can lead to remote operation of some machinery and provide a robust streaming platform to relay media in real time anywhere in the world.

Using Shetland Flyer Aerial Media’s IP43 rated Matrice 210 V2 unmanned aircraft (UA) system coupled with a real time low latency video encoder and a link to the 5G infrastructure, the company will be able to provide live HD video of the site that can be streamed to any user endpoint using the Microsoft Teams platform.

The remote pilot will have audio comms to the session using a Bluetooth headset and can be directed to view any part of the site. The UA will be fitted with a 24mm fixed lens camera (X4S), and a 180x superzoom camera (Z30). The X4S will provide a general overview of the whole site, with the Z30 used to zoom in on specific areas in incredible detail. The footage will be recorded on the UA, as well as a recording of the Teams meeting for reviewing on demand.

Given the zoom capability the UA can be operated from the site periphery, avoiding the need to fly close to structures, machinery or over people working on site. In the future the 5G infrastructure could lead to the remote operation of unmanned aircraft using a “drone in a box” solution that self-charges and can autonomously take off and land back on its charger.

This type of operation is classed as “BVLOS” (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) as the remote pilot will not have unaided visual line of sight with the UA, a regulation stipulated by the Civil Aviation Authority for a standard Specific Category Operational Authorisation. To be granted BVLOS permissions an operating safety case would need to be produced, however given the remote location of the site and the relatively compact area of operations, this wouldn’t be an onerous task.

Colin Evison, Head of Innovation at BAM Nuttall said: “We’re excited to see the opportunities a 5G network offers realised on site, further developing our digital capability and supporting our ability to build sustainable environments that enhance people’s lives. The benefits achieved for our people, BAM and the wider construction industry, drive improvements in productivity by helping us work smarter, shorten delivery times and cut costs.”

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