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The Weatherization Drones are Coming!

Created 10/27/2014 by Justin Holzgrove
Updated 11/19/2014 by Todd Blackman
768 views • 10 comments
6 people like this

NEW JOB REQUIREMENTS: building science certification + drone pilot license?


It’s a tight access. A low clearance crawl space. A high cupola with no place for safe ladder access.

Poor air quality, critters, spiders, snakes (Why does it always have to be snakes?!), nameless muck…


I don’t think anyone doubts the on-the-job challenges for conservation technicians and weatherization inspectors. Sometimes you have to boldly go where few have gone before… but what if you could send a robot to do your dirty work?!


Think about it:

A flying drone that could visually inspect an exterior roof insulation job, or hover around to the back corner of an attic with poor access…

A driving drone that could make its way around a crawlspace in a matter of minutes, streaming the sights back to your tablet, while you stand up straight and tall and breathe in the fresh morning air…


For utilities that do a 100% inspection on all weatherization jobs like Mason 3, exploring the idea of using drones to perform basic visual inspections is quite intriguing.

We’d be exposing our team members to less risk, while increasing our overall visual inspection time. Even the fastest crawlers among us can’t zip around like a remote controlled monster truck!

And for a couple hundred dollars, you could have a fleet of video-capable RC vehicles to get at even the hardest to reach places.


So, what do you think… do drones have a place in our weatherization inspection/energy audit future?

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Comments (10)
Jacob Henry on 10/27/14 on 05:08 PM (Pacific Time)
The bad news is robots can do your job now.  The good news is we're now hiring robot repair technicians.  The worse news is we're working on robot-fixing robots- and we do not anticipate any further good news.
Michael Savage on 10/30/14 on 04:24 PM (Pacific Time)
I don't think there's any doubt that we will be doing building inspections with drones in the very near future.
I've been waiting for a company to offer a service where;
The drone will be able to take detailed, time stamped, GeoPositioned  photos of any building component under construction, and the photos will be "stapled' to the Building Information Model .
The building official will no longer spend up to half their time driving to and from the jobsite.
Jim Bellamy on 10/31/14 on 09:41 AM (Pacific Time)
I'm with you on this. One way you can justify the expense is to partner with your utility's Operations department to do more than just residential inspections:

I can see a future competition for utility inspectors too.:
Mary Medeiros McEnroe on 11/04/14 on 03:43 PM (Pacific Time)
I love the idea!  We do 100% inspections and this would be a welcome addition to our toolbox. 
David Harris on 11/13/14 on 10:39 AM (Pacific Time)
Yep, been thinking about this for a long time. Along side the visual images it would be super to have Infrared Thermal Images from a drone in an attic, under a floor, or even inside ducts. It would be useful for energy audits as well as final inspections.
Todd Williams on 11/13/14 on 12:26 PM (Pacific Time)

I'd accuse you all of incredible laziness, but it's hard to deny the efficiency of these machines.  I can envision a spider like drone that sun bathes and charges during the day, eats scrap materials and turns it into poly foam that it fills in tiny energy leaks in a home at night.  Invasion of the foam-bots!


Summer Goodwin on 11/18/14 on 08:55 AM (Pacific Time)
Can we make them kitty costumes? I see fear on the faces of endusers. No one likes spiders.
Michael Savage on 11/18/14 on 09:39 AM (Pacific Time)
Not to go completely "off res," but Todd's spider comment got me to thinking........maybe we can modify spider behavior so that they seek out and fill gaps to air seal buildings? And take it a step further and fill cavities with silk spun insulation...

Todd Blackman on 11/19/14 on 11:44 AM (Pacific Time)
I love the idea but I predict some difficult decisions ahead: After crashing your drone in the furthermost reaches of a nice fresh blanket of attic insulation, do you crawl out and retrieve it manually or write it off ?:o)
Todd Blackman on 11/19/14 on 11:45 AM (Pacific Time)
In the mean time we are still experimenting with our helper monkey program

(no, we are not)


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Sector: Residential
Function: Planning, Emerging Technology

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