Drones can provide a detailed picture of the energy efficiency of large buildings

Drone to find holes in building energy efficiency

Monitoring the energy efficiency of large buildings is a promising application of drones that could soon take off on a larger scale thanks to a Strathclyde University project.

Students Americo Pino, Ken Brooksbank, and Kai Pham have developed a drone fitted with a thermal camera that can provide a comprehensive assessment of how a building is utilising its energy and where it has major gaps.

“Energy efficiency is important in buildings for environmental and economic reasons but some equipment used to measure it is expensive and doesn’t always give a full reading,” Pino explained. “Drones can make these types of inspections more comprehensive and thermal imaging technology takes this a step further.”

The Strathclyde drone, dubbed the Drone Wrangler, has recently been tested on the university’s campus during a series of 30-minute flights around five of its buildings. The craft can 'see' up to 17 satellites and provides extremely precise imagery, the team said. The students are currently analysing the data.

The trio has set up a company, called after the device Drone Wrangler, to commercialise the service.

“We’re using this project as a proof of concept exercise and are working with Strathclyde’s Enterprise Hub” said Pino. “We’ve also had a lot of support from the University’s Estates Services, particularly Ian McKay in Building Services and Energy and Environmental Manager Dean Drobot.”

The students believe that the technology could be of interest to multiple industries including construction, energy and agriculture.

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