Drone technology has proven to be a powerful commercial tool, and the surveying and mapping industry has greatly benefited from it. Drones are capable of capturing data from above, making them effective in land surveys, 3D mapping, photogrammetry, topographic surveying, and more. This article provides an overview of drone surveying, including how it works, how drones collect data, and the types of drones used in surveying.
Drone surveying is a precise science that determines distances and positions between two points in 2D and 3D space. Unlike aerial photography, drone surveying provides critical information that can enable informed decision-making, ranging from construction site planning to infrastructure design and upkeep to property boundary delineation.
Drones fly above the ground and use downward-facing sensors with multispectral and RGB cameras to capture images and collect data. Some drones also feature LiDAR payloads to help collect information. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is the primary source for collecting data in drones, and drones can interrupt data in real-time and turn raw data into actionable information.
Commercial drones with fixed-wing motors are commonly used for surveying, as they can survey a few hundred acres at a time and stay in the air longer than multirotor drones. For any 3D mapping jobs, a drone needs to have a camera that can capture 4k videos and 12 MP photos, as aerial surveying relies on photogrammetry to catalog data.
Drones are incredibly accurate and can come within two centimeters of the actual location. However, the kind of drone, camera quality, flight height, and ground cover can influence the survey results. Depending on the type of survey needed and the time to finish the job, a drone survey can cost anywhere between $30 to $120 per acre.
Drone surveying can achieve several types of deliverables, including 2D and 3D Orthomosaic Maps, 3D models, thermal maps, LiDAR point clouds, and multispectral maps. Each of these deliverables can be used in various industries, from agriculture to military bases.
In conclusion, drones are powerful tools that can enhance a surveyor’s potential in terms of speed, safety, and ROI. Incorporating drones into a surveyor’s toolkit can provide new opportunities to reach new heights and achieve better results.
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