Aurecon’s drone rock-mapping technology wins CIC Innovation Award
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Global engineering, design, and advisory company Aurecon has won the ‘International 2nd Prize’ in the Construction Industry Council (CIC) Construction Innovation Awards in Hong Kong for its innovative drone rock-mapping technology. The award was presented at a ceremony last week on 18 December 2019.

The biennial awards programme is one of the flagship events for the construction and engineering industry in Asia, promoting divergent thinking and innovative solutions through new technology applications and scientific breakthroughs, spearheading the sustainable development of the industry.

Innovative, safe technology

The drone rock-mapping technology was developed by Camilla Gibbons, an infrastructure associate and team leader at Aurecon, along with her team, which were tackling the challenges faced in New Zealand by post-earthquake projects to remediate damaged cliffs and landslides. 

To safely enable construction work underneath the 80-m-high cliff at Deans Head in Christchurch, and on the surrounding unstable land, the project team engineered the cutting-edge smart drone mapping technology. Combining laser scanning of the cliff and use of drones with photogrammetry techniques provided the inputs to Aurecon’s new digital rock-mapping tool - it is believed to be the first technology of its kind to be used in New Zealand. 

Ms Gibbons said the need for accurate rock-face data to address safety concerns was what drove them to innovate. “To work safely, we needed an accurate 3D photogrammetry model of the site, which would have been impossible without the drone.

“The technology marks a positive step forward for the industry by offering an alternative to old-style manual rock-mapping techniques, in which safety was a major challenge to overcome.” 

Not only did drone-mapping capture vast amounts of information very quickly, but the extracted data was transformed into highly accurate three-dimensional models using sophisticated software. The innovative digital rock-mapping tool then extracted the information required to undertake stability analysis, directly from the digital model. 

Aurecon’s managing director for Greater China Johny Lam said that Aurecon is very proud to receive this award in recognition of the team’seffort and contribution to driving construction safety. “At Aurecon, our passion for digital is reimagining engineering and driving us to use our engineering and advisory expertise to support our clients with creative solutions.”