Non-destructive Quality Control of Retaining Wall Construction with Drone-based GPR

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Integrated Systems
May 26, 2023

When constructing new residential areas, it's crucial to ensure that retaining walls are built to the correct depth and according to design specifications. However, determining the depth of these walls can be a challenging task during and in the post-construction stages, especially when they are nearly vertical. To solve this problem, a company developing a new residential area used the RadSys Zond Aero LF 300 drone-based ground penetrating radar

This technology enabled them to non-destructively check the depth of the retaining wall's structural elements at its top and base. In this article, we will explore how this drone-based GPR was used for quality control purposes and discuss the results obtained.

GPR radar solution - RADSYS Zond Aero LF 300

The RadSys Zond Aero, in conjunction with DJI M300 RTK and SkyHub Integration, proved to be a formidable asset for collecting measurements in challenging flying conditions. Despite the obstacles, the device's size and weight made it relatively easy for the operator to collect measurements with precision and accuracy. The radar profiles obtained from the device were evenly distributed over the height and length of the retaining walls, providing an extensive and comprehensive map of the area. The 300 MHz channel, in particular, performed remarkably well, providing an exceptional depth penetration that allowed for the mapping of the depth of a retaining wall at various heights of up to 8 meters. The overall ease of use and the device's impressive capabilities make it a must-have tool for professionals and organizations that require high-quality subsurface depth data collection and profiling in challenging environments.

Interpretation of the results using Prism2 software

After the data was collected using the RadSys Zond Aero with DJI M300 RTK and SkyHub Integration, it was processed using the powerful RadSys Prism2 software. This software allowed for specific manipulations to be made, which in turn revealed the radargram profiles that had been collected. During the data interpretation stage, it became apparent that the retaining wall had been constructed to a 3.6-meter block depth and 1.2-meter height design specification. This crucial piece of information sheds light on the quality and precision of the construction, as well as the accuracy of the collected data.

“The ease and accuracy of data interpretation using RadSys Prism2 software make it an essential tool for any organization that requires detailed and precise data for their projects,” commented Salvis Bralitis, Head of drone-based Construction & Engineering solutions at SPH Engineering.

With the capability to uncover hidden details and provide critical insights, this software is a valuable asset in a range of industries, from construction to geology to archaeology.

Key Benefits of the Drone-Based GPR Solutions in Construction:

  • Accuracy and Precision: The solution provides highly accurate and detailed data on underground structures, utilities, and other objects, reducing the risk of excavation mistakes and costly delays.
  • Non-destructive way of subsurface as-built compliance
  • Safety: By identifying potential hazards and avoiding underground obstacles, the solution helps improve worker safety and reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.
  • Reduced Costs and Time: Compared to traditional site mapping and surveying methods, the solution is more cost-effective and efficient, saving time and money on data collection, analysis, and reporting.
  • Enhanced Productivity and Efficiency: The drone-based GPR solution is fully automated for the data collection process, reducing the need for manual labor and increasing productivity and efficiency with significant safety benefits on accessing uneven surfaces
  • Competitive Advantage: By using the drone-based GPR solution, construction companies can gain a competitive edge in bidding for projects and meeting regulatory requirements, ultimately improving their bottom line and accounting for unforeseen circumstances.

Drone-based ground penetrating radar (GPR) technology, such as the RadSys Zond Aero LF 300 and DJI M300 RTK, provides valuable non-destructive quality control for retaining wall construction.

Benefits include:

  • increased safety,
  • reduced costs and time,
  • enhanced accuracy in data collection, providing a competitive edge in bidding for projects as well as meeting regulatory requirements and as-built verification.

This technology has the potential to revolutionize the construction industry and offer solutions for similar challenges in the future.


SPH Engineering is an expert in drone technology development. Since its establishment in Latvia (EU) in 2013, it has been focused on developing advanced solutions for a wide range of uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs). The company's state-of-the-art technologies are specifically designed to enhance the experience of drone-based activities like surveying, data collection, and entertainment. SPH Engineering has a significant customer base and partner network spread over 150 countries worldwide, giving a solid global presence.