Drones used for earthquake assessment

Unmanned aerial drones are being used to film earthquake-damaged properties as demolition work progresses on Christchurch’s Port Hills.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) is using the drones as one of several means for assessing properties that are too dangerous or difficult for workers to enter.

Other tools being used include remote-controlled machinery, large water-blasters and controlled explosives.

A remote-controlled quadcopter with a high-definition camera mounted underneath was used this week to investigate potential access routes and geohazards around three properties on Scarborough’s Whitewash Head.

The “quadcopter” is operated by the University of Canterbury’s geography department. Footage is collected by consulting firm Aurecon on behalf of Cera.

University of Canterbury associate professor Peyman Zawar-Reza said the flights were focusing on areas where it was too dangerous to inspect houses from the ground. The footage helped engineers to obtain a better picture of the damage to aid planning for demolition and slope stabilisation.

The quadcopter has also been flown inside Moa Bone Cave to investigate damage for the Christchurch City Council.

No-one has been inside the cave since the February 2011 earthquake.

The quadcopter was also used for aerial mapping of the Greendale fault in the Canterbury foothills. It was the first quadcopter to be flown in Antarctica for science, and was also flown around the Avon River and the estuary to provide footage for an upcoming documentary.

Nick Key, a qualified pilot, operates the quadcopter and its operation is approved by the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority.

Video of damaged Port Hills properties.


The Press

Video: University of Canterbury

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