Purpose: Extant literature extensively articulates the advantages of using remotely piloted aircrafts (RPAs) in a myriad of construction activities. Yet, the barriers that hinder their wider adoption on construction projects have received scant academic attention. This study aims at addressing this gap in the literature.
Design/methodology/approach: This study reviews 59 papers published on the use of RPAs for construction activities and offers an evaluation of barriers to widespread adoption throughout the sector.
Findings: Barriers are identified, collated and categorized into five thematic groups, namely, technical difficulties, restrictive regulatory environment, site-related problems, weather and organizational barriers.
Practical implications: The paper contributes to knowledge by: signposting a need for reordering priorities when defining future research on RPAs, suggesting measures to address the barriers identified and providing pragmatic guidance for construction companies intending to use RPAs on their projects.
Originality/value: Using the task–technology fit theory, the study uncovers that current RPA technology is an under-fit match for construction activities and represents a prominent barrier to adoption. This is a dissenting finding, given that past studies on RPAs have primarily focused upon addressing public acceptance, concerns and societal consequences. Enablers of the identified barriers are also collated from extant literature and contemporary practice and encapsulated in a conceptual model.