South Africa: Drones Deployed to Assess Cape Fire Losses

Cape Town — INSURANCE companies are deploying drones to inspect and quantify fire damage at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

They have sought the assistance of leading legal operator, UAV Industries, a UCT alumni owned and managed company, to inspect the total value of the loss.

Commercial drone pilots are conducting a 3D survey of all damaged structures using HD and thermal photogrammetry, an application whereby drones capture a large number of high-resolution photos over a specific area.

They are also carrying out internal 3D mapping of the damaged buildings, using light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensors

Braam Botha, the UAV Industries operations executive, said without drone technology to assist with the insurance claim process, the full size and complexity of the loss would be much more difficult, timely and costly to measure.

"Traditional survey methods would require additional infrastructure such as scaffolding and cranes, and greater human intervention, which would pose an increased risk to personnel," he said.

"On top of this, the resulting data would also be a lot more limited in its detail and take longer to complete delaying any follow-on work needed or being able to release the campus back to the students."

Losses from the Cape Town fires are estimated to have resulted in depletion of over R1 billion.

"While it was devastating for South Africans - students and non-students alike - to watch our beloved university burn, we are very proud to be part of the team that is assisting in its rebuild," said Richard von Seidel, UAV Industries Chairman and Director.

He said despite the ongoing challenges faced by the drone industry in South Africa, there was still potential for drone tech to help businesses increase their operational efficiency.

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