Drone Surveysand what you need to know...

Drone surveys are growing in popularity, due to the efficiency and cost savings over traditional surveying methods.

Capturing data from the sky, drones have become increasingly selected in workflows to perform land surveys, topographic surveying, photogrammetry, 3D mapping, and more.

If you are an experienced surveyor looking for qualified, experienced drone operators, we’ve put together a to the point article, to help you learn everything you need to know when it comes to getting started with drone surveying.

Drone survey software example

What is a Drone Survey?

To conduct a survey is to examine and record the area and features of (an area of land) so as to construct a map, plan, or description.

Surveys provide important information that enables individuals and organisations to make informed decisions, ranging from construction site planning, to inspection and upkeep of facilities, to monitoring and defining boundaries, and more.

A drone survey is a survey conducted using a drone, to reduce time, money and risk against traditional survey methods.

Why is using drones for surveying better than traditional methods?

Drones are very good at rapidly creating data from vantage points not easily accessible to humans.

When surveying challenging terrain, using drones mean that you would not need to physically access and measure points in hazardous or difficult-to-reach locations.

Additionally, while traditional surveying methods require accurate measurement, preparation, and planning, drones can capture comparable data in dramatically shorter timeframes, with just as accurate results. So rather than having 6 weeks of scaffolding and surveyors on-site to survey and inspect a dam, drones could collect the same data in a day.

For example, STRABAG, a leading Austrian construction company estimates drones enable them to conduct surveys with 75% reduced GCP set-up time. Click here to learn more about STRABAG’s efficiency gains.

In summary, having a drone survey produces quality results quickly, profitably, and safely.

What kinds of deliverables can you achieve with drone surveying?

Drones can be very flexible and able to carry different cameras, sensors, use different types of software…it’s expansive. Depending on the combinations of options available, drone surveying can produce a variety of deliverables with use cases in, dare I say it, all industries.

2D Orthomosaic Map

Like google maps, but much more defined!

A 2D orthomosaic map, or "ortho", is a single, geometrically corrected image created through the combination of many photos.

With map resolutions up to 0.7 inches per pixel, you'll be able to see individual blades of grass poking through cracks in the parking lot.

Drone Survey 2d mapping
Drone survey 3d mapping

3D Orthomosaic Map

Effectively able to provide the same high levels of details as the 2D map, however this one is, rather obviously, in 3D.

3D modelling

Generate 3D models of structures on your sites for quick comparison with Building Information Modelling (BIM) Software.

Drone survey 3d modelling
Drone Survey Thermal Image

Thermal Map

Surveying with a thermal camera can be very useful to identify anomalies within heat signatures.

Monitoring solar farms are a fantastic use of thermal camera's mounted on drones to provide visibility of potential issues within panels.

LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging)

LiDAR is a remote sensing technology that uses rapid laser pulses to map out the surface of the earth. LiDAR is useful when used to create high resolution digital surfaces, terrain and elevation models used for various business applications.

thermal image from drone
multispectral Map from drone

Multispectral Map

Capture multispectral data from beyond the visible light spectrum to give insight into agriculture and crop management.

Drones and BIM (Building Information Modelling)

Building Information Modelling software can use data outputs from the drone to build a more accurate picture over time.

At each stage of the construction process, high-resolution 3D photogrammetric or laser models captured by drones can be overlaid on and compared with pre-planned BIM objects. This allows for discrepancies between plans and reality to be identified before it is too late.

Detecting discrepancies early on can reduce construction error, omission, and re-work, and this project oversight has made drones an essential part of modern-day construction sites.

How accurate are drone surveys?

Accuracy is obviously a massive concern when you are talking about surveying. Without a high level of accuracy, would it be a good idea to replace traditional methods?

Surveying drone solutions can produce surveys with different degrees of accuracy, depending on the requirements of the project.

In an independent study by DroneDeploy, the DJI Phantom 4 RTK achieved 2 cm relative vertical accuracy and 1.20 cm relative horizontal accuracy.

For some applications, like checking crop growth, or construction progress, high relative accuracy is sufficient. For other jobs that also require high absolute accuracy, there are drones equipped with real-time kinematics (RTK) and post-processing kinematics (PPK) capabilities. When paired with a few GCPs, survey-level accuracy can be achieved.

Cambridge Drones Surveying Solutions

Cambridge Drones have a number of drones and options available depending on individual project requirements. We hope this blog entry has provided you with more information on drone surveying, and we would be very happy to discuss how we can help you with your drone survey requirements in the future.

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