RIT first research group with Property Drone Consortium

By Luke Geiver | May 12, 2016

The Rochester Institute of Technology has joined a national drone consortium to help research the use of small unmanned aircraft vehicles for roof inspections and damage assessments. RIT is the only research institution affiliated with the consortium, and, according to RIT, it recently named remote sensing with unmanned aerial vehicles as a signature research initiative. Over the next five years, the Imaging Center will receive $1 million to work on UAS-related research.

The Property Drone Consortium—which includes Allstate Corp., American Family Insurance, Auto Owners Insurance, Erie Insurance, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety and the National Roofing Contractors Association—works to promote research, development and the establishment of regulations. The consortium also comments on standards created for the commercial UAS insurance and construction industries.

David Messinger, RIT director for the Chester F. Carlson Center fo Imaging Science, said he hopes RIT’s involvement with the consortium will lead to future research on roof assessment.

“Using drones allows a level of access to the roof that you can’t get from a typical manned aircraft or satellite,” he said, noting that one problem with roof assessment is finding subtle damage that can still cause leaks or other problems.

Don McKeown, distinguished researcher at the Center of Imaging Science, believes advance imaging processing algorithms developed at RIT could help accelerate claims from consumers.

Earlier this year, RIT built an outdoor netted enclosure lab to research UAVs. The enclosure is 100 feet long, 100 feet wide and 50 feet tall. Agamemnon Crassidis, associate professor of mechanical engineering at RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering, said that customers looking to test fly through the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR) can use the netted enclosure for testing.