• Innovation

This is how we use drones to enhance our projects

Flying a drone over construction sites gives relevant information about the project scale and progress. Learn how use this technique at the 12 de Octubre Hospital site in Madrid and the HSR stretch project in Elorrio (Basque Country)

In little less than two years, Sacyr Engineering and Infrastructure has turned a plot of land into the new 12 de Octubre Hospital (Madrid) inpatient building, a 133,000 sq m, 10-story mega-structure.

Sacyr applies the latest technologies in this project, including drones. 

Thanks to the drone flights we can visually track the building’s transformation from a birdseye point of view.

Two of our colleagues visit the project on a monthly frequency, to take drone photos and video footage. “Every month, we fly the drone over the project and take pictures from different perspectives. This way, we can compare the project progress with the footage of previous months”, said Gabriel Palacios, drone pilot at Sacyr’s Health and Safety department. 

“One of our most precious assets from the drone flights is the orthomosaic, the image result of overlapping photos, which allows to view the full project without flying the drone too high up”, Palacios added. 

Every drone flight is carefully planned beforehand, and the flight path is pre-defined. In the case of the 12 de Octubre Hospital, the drone flies around the perimeter of the construction site.

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Safety is key

Two professionals are needed to ensure the drone flight goes smoothly. 

“The drone pilot’s focus must be 100% on the drone, they must not lose sight of it. In the meantime, the other person must check the flight parameters and radio transmission with the SUMMA (the Madrid local civil emergencies service), the traffic authorities and firefighters”, says Rafael Corredera, professional drone pilot.

To prevent risks, our colleagues are permanently coordinated with the hospital’s emergency services, the police, the traffic authorities and the firefighters. The communication flow with these organizations must be open throughout the drone flight. “Hospital security staff is informed when the drone takes off and when it lands. They need to always know when the drone is on air”, says Gabriel Palacios. 

Weather conditions (such as temperatura, wind, visibility, Kp index, chance of rain, visible satellites, etc) must be taken into consideration when planning drone flights.


Time and cost-efficient

In recent years, the use of drones in construction has become more and more popular due to how time and cost-efficient this method is to keep track of project development.

At the Elorrio (Basque Country) HSR section our colleagues turn to drone devices frequently. 

“We use drones to perform earthwork surveys. From imaging and software, we create digital terrain models to obtain earthworks volumes”, says José Gabriel Pérez, drone pilot and project topographer. “It’s practical, quick, safe, time and cost-efficient”, he adds.


 At Sacyr, we fly drones, but we also take them underwater. We have developed an ROV unit able to perform environmental surveillance tasks at sea to supplement underwater infrastructure conservation. 

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