In recent years, the restoration industry has increasingly explored the use of drones, commonly known as unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAV). Hurricanes, wildfires, and other weather-related events have served as a beta test to offer a glimpse into the potential capabilities of drones for use in restoration efforts following emergency situations.

As a company that prides itself on being on the cutting edge of innovation and emerging technologies, PuroClean recently teamed up with United Rentals, the world’s largest equipment rental company, to explore the uses of drones when assessing property damage. United Rentals’ Advanced Solutions team provides drone services across a range of industries, including disaster response and recovery – an area PuroClean specializes in with its sister company, Signal Restoration Services-- to respond to large-scale losses across the United States and Canada.

In an unpredictable world where natural disasters often happen without much warning, restoration professionals and first responders must act quickly when deploying to residential, commercial and industrial buildings affected by the weather-related event. Today, drones play a crucial role in providing next-level disaster assessment. With accuracy and consistency, drones capture information, including images of the damage from a bird’s eye point of view that can include thermal and infrared data. Restoration professionals can share this important information in real-time with both insurance companies and the affected parties, expediting the handling of the insurance claim.

Another benefit to using drones is safety.  Instead of sending personnel into a smoldering building or black water, drones can enter a danger zone, displaying images and videos to reveal the scope of work and damage to a property. UAVs are safer and easier to use than putting first responders, contractors, and technicians on site.

While drones are becoming a more common tool in restoration and remediation projects today, this is still a relatively new technology and there are several things to keep in mind:

  1. The drone industry in the United States is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and operators must obtain the proper license and follow its relevant guidelines.
  2. For the use of drones in the restoration industry, the FAA requires an operator to hold a pilot’s license.
  3. The FAA can limit an operation based on proximities to government facilities such as ports, buildings and other restricted air space.
  4. Approval and itineraries can be required before a drone can be used to survey a property.

As with any vehicle, it’s wise to have liability insurance for your drone in the event that something goes wrong. Most major carriers or brokers have plans that provide adequate coverage for drone operations.

Although there are many types of UAV’s, companies should look for solutions that automate image capture and provide measurements, models and artificial intelligence tools. This will make it easier to turn imagery into information that will help in the assessment and execution of a restoration job.

It’s easy to see why drones are becoming a tool of choice for first responders. Today, many restoration companies like PuroClean have expanded their offerings to include drone-based services as a safe and reliable way to complete site and area assessments through aerial mapping, insurance claim processing and more.  Drones are a cost effective and safe way to complete damage assessments of an area or structure in a timely manner.