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Balfour Beatty digitally maps M25 with drones

15 December 2020
Image: Dreamstime/Gorgios

Balfour Beatty’s Connect Plus consortium has deployed drones to help create a digital map of all 120 miles of the M25.

Data capture and digital twin specialist Sensat used its drone data capture and visualisation capability to capture 23 billion data points and 85,000 high-resolution images of the motorway in 30 days.

The project for Connect Plus (Balfour Beatty, Edge Orbital Holdings and Egis Investment Partners) is thought to be the largest drone mapping endeavour to have taken place in the UK to date.

The resulting 3D model of the M25 will become a key source of detailed information, supporting the team in planning and decision-making, ultimately reducing the need for physical surveys to be carried out in a live highways environment.

Andy Dean, chief executive of Connect Plus, said: “We are thrilled that we’re now in a position to create the first full digitisation of the M25, giving us a new and innovative way to deliver safer, more reliable journeys for our customers, while limiting disruption and reducing our roadworkers’ exposure to live traffic.

“We’ve already significantly reduced time spent in a live highways environment during pre-works surveys and, by having fewer vehicles on the ground moving between traditional survey points, we have reduced our carbon emissions by 95% compared to traditional survey methods.

“This initiative is our first milestone in creating a much wider and integrated digital twin, which will support our planning, monitoring and decision-making.”

James Dean, CEO of Sensat, said: “With these tools, the complexity is taken out of physical data management and ultimately streamlines manual processes, increases productivity and supports the project’s safe delivery.”