Insurance, construction industries form drone consortium

By Patrick C. Miller | April 14, 2016

A new collaboration between insurance carriers, the construction industry and their supporting businesses has been formed to safely develop unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to conduct inspections.

Charter members of the Property Drone Consortium (PDC) include Allstate Corp., American Family Insurance, Auto-Owners Insurance, EagleView Technologies Inc., Erie Insurance and Pilot Catastrophe Services.

“The multi-faceted collaboration to enhance commercial use of unmanned aerial systems is exciting,” said Gary Sullivan, PDC chair. “The PDC expects to develop technology enabling safe operations and inspections that will benefit its members and members’ customers.”

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) serves as the group’s technology adviser. The National Roofing Contractors Association is an honorary member and the Rochester Institute of Technology is a technology member.

Over the past year, PDC secured a number of FAA regulatory approvals including Section 333 exemptions, a 333 amendment and blanket COAs permitting the use of UAS platforms for aerial data collection, including the inspection of properties for the insurance and construction industries.

 

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The organization is also working closely with the IBHS to lead a research effort focused on the collection and processing of intelligent UAS imagery for the assessment of property exteriors, specifically roof damage detection.

Charles Mondello, PDC president said the research goes beyond inspections and damage detection. It’s also focusing on research for such safety initiatives as collision avoidance, visual line of sight and automated flight planning. In addition, Mondello said PDC will examine how to integrate data from UAS inspections into existing workflows.

Members of the organization will work together to promote research, development and the establishment of regulations, standards and specifications for the use of UAS technology across the insurance and construction industries.