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Yorkshire Housing to trial deploying drones for building inspections

By Chris Stonor

The UK group, Yorkshire Housing, in co-operation with Connected Places Catapult, is soon to deploy drones for inspections of its properties, reports a company press release.

Catapult is the instigator of this pioneering project and has chosen drone service provider, Vantage UAV, as part of the UK Government Drone Pathfinder Catalyst Program.

The programme is sponsored by the Department for Transport (DfT), and supported by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and ARPAS-UK, the drone industry association. The collaboration aims “to accelerate the safe adoption of drones across UK business sectors by engaging with industries and showcase the benefits of integrating drone services into existing workflow.”

While the use of drones is not new to property management industries, Yorkshire Housing hopes “to catalyse step-change improvements and provide the evidence to encourage more use of drones to drive safety, productivity, and efficiency for other housing providers.” One positive is that a drone building inspection “can offer faster diagnosis and improved service for maintenance repairs at customer properties.”

Andy Gamble, Executive Director Growth & Assets at Yorkshire Housing, commented, “It’s really exciting to play a part in the national Drone Pathfinder Catalyst Programme. Yorkshire Housing look after some 18,000 properties across Yorkshire, so drones offer us a real opportunity to improve our service.”

He continued, “Not only does it make real savings by reducing the need for expensive scaffolding and using heavy machinery to carry safety checks, but it also means our customers can have problems at their homes diagnosed and fixed far sooner.”

The management, repair and maintenance of properties are often a major cost to housing providers. Traditionally, physical inspections at height use scaffolding or mobile work platforms to inspect the condition of properties. These can be labour intensive and expensive to set up. Depending on the location, they can also result in disruption, intrusion, and security issues with unauthorised access.

Hannah Tew, Director of Air Mobility, Connected Places Catapult said, “We are delighted to be leading the Drone Pathfinder Catalyst programme on behalf of the Department for Transport and our first demonstration with Yorkshire Housing and Vantage UAV has really shown how drones can be adopted in different sectors to improve existing services.”

Drones come into their own by improving safety and productivity through providing visual access to difficult to reach and hazardous spaces, reducing the use of elevated work platforms.

Hannah Tew

The craft can capture high-quality aerial imaging and 3D models. This leads to quicker and more effective diagnosis, whilst saving the cost of inspection expenditure and reducing disruption for customers. Ultimately, drones can support more targeted maintenance and move towards a more preventative maintenance regime in the long term.

Aviation Minister, Robert Courts, added, “We’re pioneering a golden age of aviation innovation in which drones will play a huge role in not only transforming the future of transport but providing solutions to global issues.” He continued, “Yorkshire Housing’s trial is the latest that harness the benefits of drones to provide quicker, cheaper and more effective services for the public.”

This specialist market is expected to grow significantly over the next few years. Drones provide end-to-end services even for organisations with little or no experience of using such craft.

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