UNL uses drones for building upkeep

LINCOLN, Neb. Keeping up with Nebraska’s 200 academic buildings across two campuses is an around the clock job.

The university is using drones to try to make that system safer and more efficient.

UNL’s Facilities Management and Planning team can now spot potential problems with its buildings without ever having to leave the ground.

The team uses two drones, one regular and one that can be equipped with thermal imaging, to spot everything from water damage to small cracks in the room to problems with windows.

“We let the people in the buildings know that we’re going to be flying and surveying their roof and exteriors,” said Berry Scott the zone lead on the project.

He along with Matt Raiter conduct many of the flyovers. They say this system helps keep their staff safer and makes the whole process take significantly less time.

“We can quickly assess the situation,” said Raiter. “We can take larger photos from higher heights and can take generally a whole building in one shot.”

Before crews would have to climb a ladder and walk the roof and even then they were limited on what they were able to access.

“We can get very close into an area where it might not be safe for a human to go,” said Raiter.

Flyovers come as needed and they asses each building once a year.

They then pass their findings over to building management who is sent out to make the repairs.

“We have a separate roofing crew and then they look over the pictures and decided okay this looks like it’s getting worse or needs some attention,” said Scott.

The team says weather is a big factor in when they can take the drones out.

Now that temperatures seem to be warming up they will be outside more often looking at buildings.