Believe it or not, it is no longer necessary to climb on roofs for inspections. While some people are so experienced that they can tell you if you have damage just by looking at your roof from the ground, automation is becoming more popular in the roofing and construction industry. What is automation? Automation leverages technology to manage, monitor, or perform a service. Roofing will always require a lot of human touch, but implementing certain types of technology can supplement for human shortcomings. 

Drones can be used to detect damage. Most of the new drones are equipped with 4K cameras for maximum clarity. We can now fly a drone above your roof, take some photos, and look at the images with the naked eye, or we can run the images through software to detect abnormalities in the images themselves and highlight the damage. The consistency of properly maintained machines cannot be denied. Using the data the machine assembles in the form of pictures and probabilities we can quickly formulate acurate assesments of damage. The software available now can learn different types of damage and give you an accurate assessment for human review. Basically, using these machines and the software available — we can minimize the possibility of human error. A drone will never have tired eyes, or have too much on its mind — as human beings, we can sometimes be distracted or rushed. With the technological assistance of machines we can more accuratly document the condition of your roof and quickly form assesments based on the data we recieve. 

Ella Atkins, a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, designed a drone system that can autonomously nail down shingles. She was inspired after having to replace her own roof years ago. The drone works by having a ground-based motion-sensing system track its position. By using this information, Atkins tested the drone’s capabilities with a mocked-up roof at the university’s M-Air outdoor fly lab. By modifying the drone with a nail gun, it successfully hovered over the mock roof while nailing down asphalt roofing tiles before safely landing back on the ground. We know what you’re thinking, a drone that can nail shingles sounds like the prelude to robots taking over for contractors, but Atkins doesn’t believe professionals have to worry. She said even if drones are widely used, they would still need human support, including preparing the drones’ tools and materials — not to mention an in person inspection of the machines work.

The use of drones and machines to inspect, estimate, and fix a home is still a bit controversial in the construction industry. In time, it is believed that enough data will have been collected and damage detection will be 99.9% accurate. 

The roofing industry is beginning to embrace the future, and we cannot wait to see where it takes us!

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