December 2015 will always be remembered in Cumbria as the year Storm Desmond caused devastation across the county. Towns across the region were hit with record rainfall causing rivers to burst their banks. The result was 15,000 homes lost power and 22 bridges were closed.
The rainfall caused the collapse of the A591 between Grasmere and Keswick, a major route for commuters and holidaymakers and a critical road for the economic success of Cumbria. Reports suggested that the closure of the A591 would cost the Lake District's economy £1 million a day. Therefore it was vital to reopen the road as quickly as possible.
Within days of the road collapsing Atlantic Geomatics were contacted by Capita Property & Infrastructure who had been tasked by Cumbria County Council to come up with a solution. Before this could happen the designers had to understand the extent of the collapse and also the topography of the surrounding area.
Following some discussion it was clear that Atlantic Geomatics' Aibotix X6 hexacopter would provide the ideal solution. The unmanned aerial vehicle had been purchased by Atlantic Geomatics from Leica Geosystems in June of 2015 and the outputs being produced were proving to be hugely beneficial for our clients. The combination of aerial photography, point cloud data and a traditional AutoCAD drawing produced from one site visit would help speed up the design process and provide an overview of the whole site.
Once engaged by Capita we set about preparing for the project. Whenever flying a UAV it is vital that Civil Aviation Authority regulations are followed and it turned out the Road was also used by the RAF for low flying training. Contact with the MOD was made to ensure they were aware of our activity and when we were planning to conduct the survey.
One of the benefits of the Aibot is the pre-flight planning software. This enables the flight to be conducted safely by planning the flight before even leaving the office. In order to get accurate deliverables it was determined we would require 4 flights at a height of 50m. The aibot was programmed to take photos at a 50% overlap producing a resolution accuracy of 2cm.
Before the flight took place ground control points made up of hard features that would be visible from the air and temporary markers were surveyed to again increase the accuracy of the final survey.
The area surveyed was approximately 4ha and once the conditions were deemed safe enough to fly the survey was complete in 1 hour.
Once complete the photos were imported into the processing Software to create a fully geo-referenced orthophoto of the site. The height information was added to the digital file resulting in a point cloud where each point is accurate to 2cm. All of this was complete and delivered to Capita within 2 days of completing the flight on site and the complete coverage of the site allows data to be interrogated for the whole area and not just where the surveyor took points.
After 5 months of misery and a loss of 60% of business trade, the road reopened 2 weeks ahead of schedule. We are proud to have played such an important part in a vital project. We would like to thank all of our team as well as the other firms who worked on the project.