Babcock and HS2 use drone technology and 3D Animation or Augmented Reality on National Grid project

ProDroneWorx was engaged by Babcock International to carry out an aerial survey of National Grid pylons in the Birmingham area close to the international airport and the NEC.


The main purpose of the drone survey was to understand the complexity of the construction work being carried out where a number of new overhead line diversions were installed to facilitate High Speed 2 (HS2). The new pylon route crossed numerous stakeholders and other HS2 contractors work area and required key interactions with LM-JV, Seven Trent Water, the Cadent Compound, the Auria building, the Quartz business park and the NEC.

The National Grid ZF route in this area had to be diverted and raised in a number of places where it crossed the new HS2 route. The project involved the construction of 20 new overhead line towers and the removal of 16 from the old route.


In order to keep major roads and railways open during the works extensive scaffold protection was required throughout the route and the data captured from the drone survey enabled the various stakeholders to understand the extent and complexity of the project.


A lot of work went into the pre-planning of the drone survey as the area is adjacent to the M6 and M42 motorways, numerous A roads, private/public land and Birmingham airport. We obtained permission from Air Traffic Control (ATC) at Birmingham airport due to the drone’s proximity to the flight path. Our special license from the CAA, an OSC (Operational Safety Case) allowed us to carry out this complex drone survey to within 20m of people, vessels, vehicles or structures outside of our control. This is further reduced to only 10m during take-off and landing.

A digital representation of the project was created to keep pace with changes onsite and used to help surveyors, engineers, designers, project managers and senior management understand the complexity of construction.


We also used innovative ways to enhance the 4K aerial video we captured by including 3D animation or Augmented Reality (AR) of the HS2 track around complex areas and critical infrastructure. This aided master planning, community engagement, internal planning, marketing, health & safety, project inductions, project concept and visualisation.


A big advantage of using this approach is that we can include 3D animation/AR data from the design models e.g. 2D CAD model, REVIT, etc and combine it with reality capture video of the project. Adopting this approach means that there’s no need to fully animate/render the project thus saving a huge amount of time and money for our clients. We also think that’s it much easier for both internal and external stakeholders to understand the project when it’s based on a 4K real life video with features modelled into it.


We have the ability to take any aerial video or images and insert any visual affects required on projects, all we need are the drawings/models in a 2D or 3D format.


We can also show a project at different stages e.g. various phases of the build or at completion. This combination of technologies has many uses on road, rail, power, construction, infrastructure, engineering or architectural projects.

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