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The UA pioneers the use of drones as a teaching and research tool for Civil Engineering

This low-cost unmanned aerial device makes it possible to record brand-new audiovisual material and to obtain site data and details


Alicante, 4 April 2014

A safe, easy-to-use, unmanned, 20 x 20 centimetre vehicle is the latest addition to innovation on teaching and research at the Universty of Alicante. Within the framework of a REDES project led by the Institute of Education Sciences (ICE), the UA's Department of Civil Engineering (DIC) has now been working for one month on the use of RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, that is, drones) as a tool for teaching and research on Civil Engineering, especially in the fields of transport, land and structures. 

"This pioneering ground-breaking research in Spanish universities, is now in its early stages, and test flights are being performed. We are planning on obtaining data and images from several difficult access areas and structures such as chimneys, to be later on used for traffic studies" says project coordinator Luis Bañón.

This versatile and inexpensive tool makes it possible to obtain 25 minutes of high-quality images and videos, and can reach up to 300 metres high depending on weather conditions. Furthermore, thanks to a simple smartphone application the dron's images can be viewed in real time. Bañón says that "its technical features allow for absolute and safe control of the device, since the drone uses the integrated GPS to return to the point of departure, thus eliminating the need to control it remotely". 

One of the main objectives of the project is to produce high quality teaching materials and graphics for several subjects within the Civil Engineering field. According to Luis Bañón, "this information was actually available before, but at a much higher price". 

A multidisciplinary team of lecturers is currently attending training sessions to learn to use the device and will perform a series of test drives before they select, record and post-produce the teaching materials.

"Drones are an emerging type of technology with great potential for engineering, so we hope to obtain good results that will increase their popularity", the coordinator concluded.

Pilot videos



Picture of the unmanned aerial vehicle used by UA lecturers and researchers, and some photographs taken during the drone's trial tests.

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