CASE STUDY: Drone Provides More Precise Documentation of Miami Beach Restoration Project


SUMMARY: sUAS technology provides a more efficient way to document work progress at most large scale construction projects. Drones have the ability to capture imagery from new perspectives, especially when natural elements such as vegetation or sea provide hinderances from garnering a full 360 degree view of the work site. PROBLEM: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in partnership with Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami Beach, is in the process of restoring portions of Miami Beach that have eroded away over the years. Sand is being trucked in to the city and delivered to a loading site at Indian River Park, where it is then transferred to large Caterpillar trucks and hauled out to the beach where it is bulldozed into place. Documenting this project using conventional digital cameras is a difficult and inefficient process. Substantial fencing has been established around the transfer area to provide safety and security. It would be very dangerous to enter the loading area while the machinery is working and attempt to take photographs. Images taken from outside the fence line are one dimension in nature and do not provide a proper perspective of the scale of the project (Fig 1). Further complicating the task, the sand is hauled about a mile down the beach making it extremely difficult to properly document the entire project site in a single photo with a traditional hand-held camera system (Fig 4). SOLUTION: A drone is the perfect solution to quickly capturing the shots needed to document the beach restoration project with ease and accuracy. The location of the ground photo point-of-view takes on an entirely new perspective when shot from an elevated position Fig 2, 3). The UAV is able to swiftly maneuver around the entire project site while capture an array of imagery from multiple perspectives (Fig 5). Software features in the drone app allow the UAV to automatically track the Caterpillar trucks from the loading area, all the way down the beach to the offloading site, while filming crisp, sharp 4K video footage. Finally, the UAV is able to travel out past the surf line and over the ocean to capture the "money shot" that showcases the focus of the project with magnificent hotels in the background (cover photo).

Figure 1 (above): A traditional ground level photograph taken outside the fence line captures the worksite from a one dimension perspective and does not properly depict the scope of the transfer location.

Figure 2 (above): When taken from an elevated position of about 75 feet, an image from a drone provides better context around the actual operations underway at the transfer site.

Figure 3 (above): From an elevation of approximately 200 feet, photographs from the drone provide the full scope of the size of the loading site and the operations underway including the traffic pattern and safety perimeter.

Figure 4 (above): A traditional ground level shot from a hand held camera provides a traditional perspective of the work being performed to replace sand on Miami Beach.

Figure 5 (above): An aerial photo shot by a drone hovering around 150 feet above the work site provides an image depciting the full scope of the project in a single photograph.

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