UAV-Driven Building Inspection And Integrated Facility Maintenance Management

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Civil and Construction Engineering

First Advisor

Hexu Liu, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Osama Abudayyeh, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Yufeng Hu, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

William Liou, Ph.D.


Facility management (FM) plays a significant role in managing building assets and extending the establishment's age. This is because making sound and timely decisions in FM significantly affects the main aspects of management in terms of cost, time, and productivity. Timely decision making, in turn, depends on the availability of facility information and effective communication. As such, information and communication technology (ICT) provides a promising solution for managing and operating facilities. However, existing FM practices are inefficient and ineffective, partially because of missing information and communication issues. For this reason, the impact of ICT applications on current FM practices needs to be validated, and the perception of FM professionals with regard to ICT-based FM needs to be better understood. Therefore, this research aims to investigate the impacts of, and the perceptions with regard to, ICT applications in FM practice, as well as to develop an innovative ICT-based integrated framework for FM. ICT applications for FM considered in this research include (1) building information modeling (BIM), (2) geographic information system (GIS), (3) augmented reality (AR), and (4) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). A survey questionnaire is administered to FM professionals to evaluate the proposed framework and identify the challenges associated with adopting ICT in FM industry.

Leveraging the integrated framework, this research further focuses on UAV applications for outdoor building inspection. It is shown that the use of UAVs allows for improved decision-making by providing images and live video of buildings. They are increasingly being used in building fire rescue for real-time visualization and 3D reconstruction of the entire fireground. However, flight planning of camera-equipped UAVs is usually a manual process, insufficient to fulfill emergency management needs. This research thus proposes a GIS-based approach to automatic flight planning of camera-equipped UAVs for building fire emergency response. Furthermore, to ensure full building coverage, this research also targets indoor maintenance inspection, presenting a method for automated localization of UAVs for indoor maintenance inspection. The proposed technique uses the received signal strength indicator (RSSI) to locate the drone and identify the coordinates of the location targeted for maintenance inspection. As is shown timely localization of UAVs provides the foundation for UAV-based indoor building inspection.

The results of this research reveal that: (1) the proposed framework serves as an important first step toward smart management of facility maintenance, and (2) the approach of deploying UAVs for both interior and exterior maintenance inspection provides an effective solution to the technical challenges associated with UAVs, thereby further promoting the adoption of such technologies in daily FM practice. The contributions of this research include (1) an integrated framework for ICT that includes BIM, GIS, AR, and UAV for smart FM, (2) identification of the challenges inherent in ICT adoption, (3) a novel method for outdoor building inspection that applies a lawnmowing pattern algorithm for UAV path planning, and (4) a method for UAV localization for interior building maintenance inspection. These methods improve both interior and exterior maintenance tasks by using UAV to inspect the building's exterior and interior components, leading to improved maintenance data collection and management towards sound and timely decision-making in maintenance tasks.

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