Drones For Surveying And Mapping

With fast technological developments, drones are getting used for a variety of functions in numerous completely different industries. One space of utility the place corporations are utilising the facility of drones is aerial surveying. There are many industries which can be utilizing drones for his or her surveying and mapping wants these embrace building, mining, agriculture, forestry, and environmental analysis.

Traditional strategies of land based mostly surveying is time-consuming, costly and typically dangerous for individuals who are tasked with the job. Aerial surveying by way of drones supplies an alternate method for corporations to hold out their surveying wants with out the disadvantages land based mostly strategies.

The advantages of adopting drone expertise for numerous industrial causes together with surveying are large and firms which can be utilizing drones for his or her operational wants are reaping the rewards.

Whether you’re a drone service supplier, an expert surveyor or somebody who’s within the utility of drones in surveying, this text will present an summary of what drone surveying is and the way it’s benefitting various kinds of industries.

What Is Drone Surveying And Mapping?

Surveying is the self-discipline of figuring out the place of distinct factors and the space between them on or above the floor of the earth. Surveying performs an vital function in lots of industries the place you want correct maps and measurements of an space of land.

From building and mining to agriculture and environmental analysis, corporations require an in depth aerial view of websites that they’re engaged on in order that they’ll make knowledgeable selections almost about planning and implementing these plans.

Traditional strategies of land-based surveying require fairly a couple of instruments to do the duty correctly and is kind of labour intensive. It can be time-consuming and might take days or even weeks to precisely survey a big plot of land.

Drones present a less expensive and extra environment friendly methodology for surveying with out compromising on high quality and accuracy. In many situations, drones can also show to be the safer choice as some terrains might be harmful for land-based surveying.

Drone surveys and mapping are carried carried out by way of photogrammetry; photogrammetry is the science of buying correct information concerning the bodily world by way of pictures. These pictures are then stitched collectively through photogrammetry software program and the tip product are assets like maps and 3D fashions of the world.

From these assets, corporations can extract the knowledge they require and make knowledgeable selections almost about no matter undertaking they’re engaged on.

Benefits Of Drones For Surveying And Mapping

There are numerous advantages of drone surveying over conventional strategies of utilizing whole stations and manned aerial surveying.

For one, drones are simpler to deploy, and they don’t seem to be very onerous to fly, anybody with somewhat coaching can fly one, though, as they are going to be used for industrial causes, the operator will want a CAA/FAA license to fly.

Drones might be flown at decrease altitudes than manned plane and this ends in higher picture decision and positional accuracy will not be compromised.

Another benefit of surveying with drones is that surveyors can simply entry areas of land which can be onerous to survey with land-based survey gear. Terrains which can be harsh and a danger for individuals to stroll round or areas of land that could be onerous to entry by land-based means are a lot simpler to survey with drones.

Probably the primary profit that the majority corporations will base their choice on whether or not to spend money on drone expertise is the time and price it takes to finish a drone survey.

Surveying with drones have confirmed to be extra time-efficient and more cost effective than conventional strategies of surveying. Drone surveying requires much less manpower and gear and what often takes per week to finish might be carried out in a day or two.

Industries Using Drones For Surveying And Mapping


According to a survey carried out by cloud mapping firm Drone Deploy, the most important use of drones for his or her software program is from building corporations. Construction corporations can formulate a extra environment friendly workflow by adopting drone expertise for his or her surveying and mapping wants. Drones permit building corporations to rapidly purchase extremely detailed aerial maps of the world they’re engaged on and this may permit them to judge numerous completely different information factors. This will assist them in each side of the choice making course of for the undertaking. From the preliminary preliminary inspection of the land to see its suitability for building to

Mining & Quarries

Mines and quarries are harmful locations to work however with the assistance of drones, most of the dangers that include engaged on a mining web site might be mitigated. Drones are getting used to create detailed 3D fashions and maps of mining websites that can assist employees in all points of mining operations. From preliminary mining exploration to calculating inventory quantity, using drones in mining helps mining actions to develop into extra environment friendly, much less dangerous and assist with saving prices and improve ROI.


The use of drone expertise is revolutionising the way in which farmers are managing their everyday duties. With the help of various kinds of digicam sensors, farmers can simply survey and map their fields and establish points equivalent to irrigation issues, pest and fungal infestations and take motion as quickly as any issues are recognized. Data collected by way of drone surveys are permitting agronomists and agricultural engineers to maximise crop manufacturing, use pesticides/herbicides the place it’s wanted, maintain waste to a minimal and irrigate the land extra effectively. As drones are cheaper to function than conventional strategies of manned aerial missions, farmers can monitor and assess the well being of their crops extra continuously and assist establish and clear up issues rapidly.

Environmental Monitoring

With our local weather altering and bringing with it uncommon climate and rising the speed of pure disasters like flooding, drought, tropical storms and wildfires, drone expertise helps scientists to raised perceive find out how to forestall or mitigate the damages these disasters carry.

What Kind Of Deliverables Can You Expect With Drone Surveys?

There are various kinds of property you’ll be able to anticipate from the information that’s offered by drones, it comes all the way down to the kind of digicam getting used for the undertaking and the software program utility used to course of the information.

2D Maps

Photogrammetry software program can mesh collectively 1000’s of drone pictures and reconstruct an correct 2D map. These pictures are tagged with geolocation information and are utilized in many industries equivalent to building for city planning and infrastructure growth.

3D Maps & Models

Aerial pictures might be was high-intensity level clouds for 3D reconstruction of the world or object being surveyed. Point clouds have correct georeferenced factors and color information and the 3D picture that’s constricted from them are used for a lot of functions. For instance, within the discipline of building and engineering, 3D fashions of areas of land or buildings might be used to make planning and design selections, lower and fill necessities and development experiences. 3D maps are additionally helpful within the mining business the place corporations can use them to precisely calculate stockpile quantity and due to the benefit with which drones’ might be deployed, stock might be monitored frequently and managed extra effectively.

Thermal Map

Many drones now include thermal imaging cameras and this expands their capabilities for surveying and mapping. Many industries like building and agriculture require thermal imaging information to establish irregular warmth signatures. For instance, in precision agriculture, thermal maps of crop fields might help farmers establish crops that aren’t being irrigated correctly, detecting germs and illness, soil evaluation and estimating crop yield.

Multispectral Map

These maps are utilized in agriculture and environmental monitoring, they’re created through multispectral cameras and permit farmers and conservationists to observe the well being of crops and vegetation.

Digital Surface Models (DSM)

These are georeferenced with 3D coordinates and are utilized in metropolis planning/modelling, panorama modelling and different building/city planning causes. DSM supplies information for all of the options on the floor of the earth together with pure and man-made.

Digital Terrain Models (DTM)

Similar to DSM however the man-made and pure options are filtered out and what’s left is the information for the naked terrain.

Best Drones For Surveying & Mapping

#1) DJI Phantom 4 Pro 2 RTK

Probably the most well-liked surveying drone available on the market, the Phantom 4 Pro RTK is a flexible drone with many superior options that makes it among the finest drones on this discipline. It comes with a real-time kinematic module for centimetre degree positional information which leads to survey-grade accuracy for any form of mapping wants. It comes with a 1-inch 20MP CMOS sensor, half-hour of flight time and an omnidirectional impediment avoidance system.

#2) DJI Phantom 4 Pro Multispectral RTK

The DJI P4 Multispectral drone has been engineered in direction of amassing picture information for agriculture, forestry, and environmental monitoring. The multispectral digicam has 1 RGB sensor and 5 different sensors that seize information throughout the electromagnetic spectrum that’s invisible to the bare eye. With these sensors’ agronomists, conservationists and environmental engineers can receive a number of information relating to the well being of crops, timber, soil and so forth and make knowledgeable selections with issues like pesticide and fertilizer functions. Other options the drone comes with embrace 27 minutes of flight time and impediment avoidance expertise.

#3) DJI Matrice 300 RTK

This is among the newest drones within the Matrice collection, the 300RTK has a sturdy and rugged construct and with its IP45 ranking, it’s a drone that may be flown in excessive climate circumstances. It has a number of payload capabilities which makes it a really adaptable drone that can be utilized in many various industrial functions. Depending on its payload, it has a most flight time of 55 minutes, a few of the payloads which can be suitable with the 300 RTK embrace the Zenmuse L1 with LiDAR sensor, Zenmuse P1 and Zenmuse H20T which comes with thermal imaging functionality. The drone additionally has AI flight capabilities, a 6-directional sensing system for safer flying and a complicated UAV well being monitoring system to maintain the drone in optimum circumstances.

#4) WingtraOne VTOL Drone

A set-wing drone that comes with vertical take-off/touchdown functionality very similar to a multicopter drone and so there is no such thing as a must launch it by hand or another means. This is a drone that’s appropriate for giant scale surveying and mapping wants, it has a sturdy construct and might be flown in windy circumstances. The drone is suitable with a number of payloads which embrace the Sony RX1RII with a full-frame 42MP sensor and the Micasense RedEdge multispectral digicam. It comes with an built-in PPK GNSS receiver from Septentrio for survey-grade positional information with the potential to attain sub-centimetre degree accuracy. It is well-engineered and is constructed to military-grade normal and has an IP68 ranking that enables it to be operated in harsh climate circumstances.

#5) eBee X Fixed-Wing Drone

SenseFly’s eBee X is their flagship surveying and mapping drone and is utilized in a variety of industries. It’s suitable with a number of payloads together with the S.O.D.A 3D digicam, the Aeria X with 24MP APS-C sensor, the Duet T thermal imaging digicam and the MicaSense RedEdge multispectral digicam. It has a most flight time of 90 minutes (relying on the payload), which is one of the best on this record and comes with RTK/PPK modules for better positional accuracy.

How Accurate Is Drone Surveying?

There are many components that can affect how correct a drone survey is, issues just like the drone’s digicam functionality, the altitude at which the pictures might be captured, the necessities of the undertaking, even the climate and space or goal to be mapped/modelled can have an effect on general accuracy.

Things like GSD, that are closely influenced by the digicam sensor specs will even have an effect on accuracy in addition to using GCP’s and whether or not the drone has GPS correctional expertise like RTK or PPK.

With all that stated, drones’ surveys have confirmed to be very correct, for instance, the WingtraOne VTOL drone, which is among the greatest drones for photogrammetry can obtain horizontal accuracy ranges of 1cm and vertical accuracy to 2cm.

While DJI Phantom 4 RTK has additionally proven to have survey-grade accuracy, attaining sub 3 cm vertical and sub 2 cm horizontal accuracy.

Some conditions like measuring NDVI in agriculture or analysing the well being of vegetation might not require correct survey-grade measurements and in these circumstances, you’ll not want GPS correctional expertise to attain the best accuracy.

Best Software For Drone Surveying & Mapping

I don’t suppose there’s a software program you can name one of the best for drone surveying and mapping however there are a couple of that stand out from the remainder and they’re those that it’s best to contemplate investing in.


One of the main software program builders for drone photogrammetry options, Pix4D’s mapping and surveying apps are one of the crucial sturdy available on the market. It has a little bit of a steep studying curve due to its vary of options and the subtle nature of the software program. However, their help is firstclass and there’s a very lively group discussion board in addition to in-depth tutorials. There is a 15-day free trial after which you’ll be able to both select a pay month-to-month subscription plan, a yearly license or a one-off price.

Drone Deploy 

This a drone mapping and 3D modelling software program resolution that’s appropriate for small to giant and sophisticated mapping initiatives. It has a variety of options and all the information is processed within the cloud so there’s nothing to obtain. The software program is suitable with most of DJI’s high-end drones in addition to WingtraOne, eBee X and Skydio 2. It serves an array of various industries and the information is straightforward to learn and analyse. There are a number of useful guides within the type of webinars, ebooks, a discussion board and common weblog posts. There are three pricing plans with the choice to pay month-to-month or yearly.

Agiosoft Metashape

This isn’t strictly a device for simply drone photogrammetry, the corporate has been creating software program devoted to pc imaginative and prescient expertise and thru years of analysis, they’ve gained proficiency in creating algorithms for photogrammetry programs. The software program is intuitive, straightforward to make use of and comes with a number of options that might be helpful for each amateurs {and professional} surveyors. There are two variations of this software program, normal {and professional}, the usual model is okay for amateurs who don’t want it for work-related initiatives, however the skilled model comes with much more options and is suitable with completely different kind of digicam sensors. Both variations include a free 30-day trial after which a one-time price.

Site Scan For ArcGIS 

This is a whole finish to finish cloud-based mapping resolution for the AEC and mining business. The software program permits drone operators to plan flight missions, handle flight information and course of that information to provide 2D/3D maps. It additionally has a spread of instruments that can permit you to make sense of the information and share them with colleagues and shoppers. If you might have a fleet of drones, the software program will permit you to correctly handle your drone operations safely, effectively and with none trouble.


Get entry to superior mapping and flight planning software program that additionally permits drone service suppliers to handle their fleet of drones in an environment friendly and protected method. PrecisionHawk provides greater than only a software program resolution for drone mapping and analytics, as a member you get entry to their community of 1000’s {of professional} drone pilots who you’ll be able to rent to hold out your drone mapping wants. PrecisionHawk additionally supplies a consulting service to your drone enterprise and you may even rent their very own crew to your drone initiatives. Their software program providing is strong and is utilized in a wide range of industries together with agriculture, oil & gasoline, mining and environmental monitoring.

DJI Terra

One of the newer additions to the drone mapping software program market and whereas it is probably not as sturdy as a few of its rivals, it’s a DJ product, so you’ll be able to anticipate steady updates and enhancements. The DJI Terra permits surveyors to conduct autonomous flight mission and seize aerial information that may be was 2D maps and 3D fashions. It is being utilized in a variety of industries together with building, power, agriculture, mining and authorities. There is a spread of research instruments that will help you with making sense of the information and make better-informed selections.

Propeller Aero

Founded in 2014, Propeller Aero supplies an finish to finish cloud-based resolution for photogrammetry functions. It’s a sturdy platform that enables surveyors to course of drone information into correct 3D visuals and comes with a set of analytics instruments to make sense of your 3D digital property. The system is suitable with a spread of drones, nonetheless, they do advise that their most well-liked drone is the DJI Phantom 4 RTK.

Maps Made Easy

A cloud-based information processing software program for drone photogrammetry, the web site might not look as polished as its rivals, however the software program does what it says and means that you can flip your drone pictures in to beneficial digital property to your undertaking. The software program can course of picture information from various kinds of sensors like RGB, infrared and multispectral and it has an inexpensive pricing plan that isn’t subscription-based.

Photogrammetry vs LiDAR

Creating digital 2D maps and 3D fashions by way of pictures captured by drones is finished by way of a course of referred to as photogrammetry.

Photogrammetry is the science of acquiring correct information concerning the bodily world by capturing and decoding digital pictures by way of various kinds of digicam sensors. These picture information can then be processed by way of photogrammetry software program to acquire digital property like 2D maps, 3D fashions, level clouds and different kinds of aerial maps.

It is the most well-liked and cost-effective technique to survey and map areas of land and bodily objects.

An various to photogrammetry is a system referred to as LiDAR which stand for mild detection and ranging. LiDAR is just like SONAR and RADAR, it scans the world beneath by quickly firing laser pulses from its sensor after which calculates how lengthy it takes for the heart beat to mirror again to the sensor.

It is a decades-old expertise that has solely just lately develop into appropriate as a payload for industrial drones.

When LiDAR information is processed you get an in depth level cloud that’s precisely georeferenced with every level having 3D spatial coordinates. The result’s a 3D visualisation of the world or object that has been scanned.

The benefits of LiDAR over photogrammetry are a number of, for instance, laser pulses can penetrate areas of land which can be populated with dense vegetation and supply an correct visible illustration of the world beneath. This will not be potential with photogrammetry as a result of pictures want a number of mild to seize all the information for a photograph.

Also, LiDAR is the best choice in case you are required to map in a low mild atmosphere or at night time time as a result of, not like photogrammetry, it doesn’t require an outdoor mild supply.

LiDAR information is harder to decipher in case you are not a GIS skilled, whereas a 2D map or 3D mannequin from photogrammetry is simpler to grasp even for individuals with little expertise with mapping.

Both strategies have their execs and cons, nonetheless, the most important deciding issue for many corporations will come all the way down to price and in that case, photogrammetry is the higher choice as it’s less expensive than LiDAR.

Final Thoughts

We have seen on this article the advantages of surveying and mapping with drones, drones can present the identical if not higher outcomes than conventional strategies of surveying and they’re cheaper and extra environment friendly.