Researchers at New York University-Tandon (NYU-Tandon) are developing an automated robotic data-collection system using drones, robots and AI to inspect building exteriors for leaks that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. The system includes advanced sensors – such as ground-penetrating radar, LiDAR, GPS, visual cameras and thermal cameras as well as drones – to capture thermal and RGB data.
They system would allow building inspectors to safely and remotely assess building envelopes – the exterior shell of structures – for moisture, thermal anomalies and other issues without invasive procedures. All data is collected in cloud-based servers that utilize AI-powered software to analyze the information and generate detailed reports on building envelope conditions.
The platform provides an efficient, cost-effective and secure way for buildings to comply with climate legislation such as New York City’s Local Law 97, which aims to reduce emissions by 40% from 50,000 buildings by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
Last year, the NYU-Tandon research team performed a Stage 1 pilot assessment of buildings at the Brooklyn Army Terminal with thermal-sensing drones and a preliminary version of the data collection platform. The success of Stage 1 laid the groundwork for a one-year, $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for continued research into Stage 2.
Throughout 2024, the research team will develop and deploy the robotic data-collection system for inspection testing on various schools owned by the Archdiocese of New York. The project also includes social-science research into adoption barriers for the technology and how to overcome them.