NEWS: London Underground station roof surveyed by drone

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Lanes Group performs aerial drone survey for roof inspection project at Amersham Station

Lanes Group has carried out its first aerial drone survey at a London Underground station, producing a series of ultra-high definition images and point clouds for a roof inspection project at Amersham Station on the Metropolitan Line.

Lanes Group had previously carried out a drone roof survey on a large maintenance depot, and wanted to show the technology could be used on more complicated angular station roofs as well.

“The station drone survey, the first of its kind on the Tube network, went very well,” said Rail Division Planned Maintenance Manager Mark O’Leary. “It was carried out in the daytime when the station was open to passengers, without causing any disruption to service.

The aerial drone used by Lanes Group was fitted with a sophisticated camera that takes scores of ultra-high definition images, which can be manipulated to analyse the roof’s structure and condition.

This includes creating a 3D point cloud image so the roof can be viewed and measured from any angle by engineers.

Lanes Rail Division is working with UAV firm Unmanned Aerial Technology to develop the drone roof survey service, which it says delivers enhanced digital data to support maintenance and development programmes.


At Amersham Station the survey was completed by two operatives, the drone pilot and a works supervisor, in the equivalent of one working day.

According to Lanes Group, surveying the 4,500 sq ft roof conventionally would have taken a team of four operatives up to five nights, using a range of access and safety equipment, including scaffolding towers.

The company worked closely with London Underground counterparts to organise the drone survey – and also liaised with the police and Network Rail.

“Using drones in public areas always sparks public interest, which is why the police needed to be aware,” adds O’Leary. “Station staff and train drivers were also advised, so they had no concerns and could advise the public that the activity was planned and approved.”

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