Mortenson uses drones to manage massive site for Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center-Riverside Project


If you want to see how the new Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center-Riverside are being built, just look to the sky. Mortenson is deploying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or “drones” to gather valuable project data and use it in a whole new way. 

Unlike entertaining novice videos on YouTube, these drones are delivering precision video and images with dimensional data of the 65-acre construction site in near real-time. Mortenson integrates the drone-captured data with the project’s 3D models and other software tools to map, plan and manage critical site work faster and better than traditional methods make possible.

In a 30-minute flight with a predetermined path and height, a drone can do the work of two people surveying and gathering data onsite for two full days and producing a report a week later. 

The drone-captured images are merged together with other useful data, creating rich, Google Earth-like visuals that can be viewed on an iPad in the field or big-screen monitors in the construction site trailer. The information drives everything from determining current site grading, staging of materials, and movement of crews and equipment to establishing temporary site entrances, roads and exits, and calling-out ongoing digging and underground utilities.

This vital information is one of the main tools that Mortenson superintendents use every day to communicate the work plan to everyone on the project. Mortenson also uses the data to estimate cost and time to accomplish certain tasks, such as excavating and hauling away dirt. Drones also further enhance safety efforts by reaching high and out of reach site locations for inspection.

This is a whole new way to build.