Topcon helps Murphy Surveys get new opportunities off the ground


Topcon GB & Ireland has helped leading land and engineering surveying company, Murphy Surveys, expand its offering with the introduction of a specialised aerial survey division – MurphyUAV.

Established 30 years ago, Murphy Surveys covers many key areas of surveying, including BIM, laser scanning, topographic surveys and setting out. In March 2016, the company decided to reach new heights with the launch of MurphyUAV: a brand new division providing aerial surveys from its team of experts.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) minimise the number of people needed to complete surveys on the ground and make it possible to take on much more challenging surveys due to the advanced technology and single-person operation. By introducing this technology, MurphyUAV is able to break into new markets and complete complex and often high-risk projects much more safely and easily.

“The use of UAVs in the commercial sector has been increasing rapidly over the last five years – particularly in surveying applications due to the enormous health and safety and time-saving benefits,” commented Julian Deeks, director of MurphyUAV.

“In difficult to access areas, for example, like bridges, tunnels, or large-scale structures, traditional methods of surveying can be time consuming and high risk. In comparison, UAVs can cover great distances quickly and easily with only one person on the ground, meaning it’s possible to collect mass data in a matter of hours as opposed to days.

“Introducing this technology through our MurphyUAV division means we can bring together traditional and new ways of working to produce even more accurate data for our clients. It also opens the doors to many new sectors – like shipping, oil and gas, mining and large-scale infrastructure – where traditional methods are often too dangerous.”

MurphyUAV chose the Falcon 8 from Topcon to lead the way in its new enterprise. With a rotary-wing system, flight-planning software and adaptive flight control, the UAV reduces the time and effort spent on complex survey projects.

Julian continued: “We needed a UAV that was tried and tested in high risk environments, one that could measure up to the challenge of conducting surveys in some of the hardest to reach locations. I’d used the Falcon 8 previously and was confident it could give us this level of reliability as it’s been designed for safety.”

With three separate devices working simultaneously to measure data during its flight, the Falcon 8 can recognise any potential issues and make automatic adjustments to maintain stability and accuracy at all times. It also offers users a choice of HD imaging, thermal and RGB stills and real-time video, making it suitable for a range of applications.

Since getting the Falcon 8, MurphyUAV has already completed a number of surveys and inspections, from bridges and buildings, to roads and railways.

Julian said: “In just a three month period we’ve covered over 20 square kilometres with the Falcon 8: that’s more than 2,000 hectares with just one system and one flight team. If we were to do these kind of projects with a traditional survey team it would have taken 200 days. These time-savings alone show the capabilities of the advanced technology.”

It’s not just the beginning of projects where UAV technology is proving instrumental for MurphyUAV. As the construction industry makes the shift to 3D through processes such as building information modelling (BIM), there’s an increasing demand for accurate, real-world data like that acquired from a UAV.

“Aerial surveys are proving useful from beginning to end on so many projects,” Julian said. “The rich-data makes it possible to assess existing conditions on a site, monitor the construction process, carry out structural assessments and record as-built conditions. Effectively, the UAV can be used from the start to the end of the construction cycle: whether it’s helping to support engineers and the design team in the initial stages, or bring survey-grade data to inspections.”

Since its launch, MurphyUAV has worked on projects spanning a range of sectors, from inspections for telecommunications companies, to off-shore oil and gas surveys. The company is now looking to branch out internationally and break into even more markets such as mining.

To find out more about Topcon’s UAV technology, visit:

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