AI Is Revolutionizing the Surveying Industry

November 7,2019

According to the RICS Insights Report “Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to affect almost 90% of the core tasks undertaken by surveyors.” Experts believe this dramatic shift will happen within the next decade.

It is not an exaggeration to say that AI is revolutionizing surveying; whether or not all of that potential will be realized in the next ten years is another matter. The implications, though are clear: transformative technology will result in far-reaching changes to the industry over the next ten years. AI is already streamlining drafting and surveying processes and supercharging data capture. Let’s take a look.




From Aerial Data to CAD Drawings - Today

When people think of surveyors, they picture land surveyors in the field monitoring their equipment. While technology like GPS has facilitated the process, it has not transformed it. The fundamentals have remained fairly unchanged for generations. Until now.

Surveyors are in demand: every project requires this intel, and high demand means it can take several months to complete a project. To gather the data, to convert it to 2D and 3D CAD models, to put it to work on the ground.

What if you could access CAD drawings faster? How would that impact your business, timeline, and budget? CDS uses AI-powered software developed by AirWorks that autonomously converts any aerial dataset into CAD site plans, trimming the process by weeks. The goal of founders David Morczinek and Adam Kersnowski is to drive processing time down to just minutes in the near future.

AirWorks estimates that users can cut at least 50% of the time they spend drafting new projects. The software takes on the repetitive, time-consuming tasks (e.g. drafting common features, such as roads, vegetation, buildings) so surveying teams can focus on value added tasks. Turnaround is accelerated for key project deliverables, more surveys can be completed by the same amount of staff, and surveyors and engineers can turn their attention to complicated work that requires human cognitive abilities.


Capturing Better Data with AI

Artificial intelligence mimics cognitive functions like thinking and problem solving. Machine learning, a subset of AI, takes it further: machines learn and adapt to new data without the need for for human involvement, and in the case of deep learning, they can do increasingly complex tasks, such as making decisions and predictions.

Drones equipped with AI software are able to not only capture what they “see,” but to actually perceive their environment. This allows them to map areas, detect and track objects, and deliver real-time analytical feedback. One area in which AI is showing great promise, for example, is in object detection in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The software can learn to identify and classify geographical features (e.g. roads, buildings, cars, trees, etc.) quickly.

When AI is applied, surveying and construction professionals can access sophisticated analytics to improve decisions around everything from estimating to designing to reporting. The applications are numerous - and the possibilities certainly exciting.


The Role of Emerging Technology in the Surveying Industry

As Andrew Waller of Remit’s Consulting says, “With 88% of these tasks being suitable for automation via emerging technologies we can expect to see far-reaching changes in our profession in the next few years."

Waller and others believe that surveying practitioners that adapt their approach and utilize the new technologies will be able to bring added value to their clients through increased efficiencies. The new technologies will also present surveyors with the tools to be able to provide far more, high-level, strategic advice to their clients.

In the coming years, AI will play an increasingly large role in drafting and surveying. If you are curious about implementing a faster, more streamlined drafting and surveying processes please send us a note or give us a call today.