Why use Drones for Surveying and Mapping?
Mapping and surveying are a crucial part of urban, rural and industrial planning, construction, and maintenance. Across sectors like infrastructure, energy, mining, city planning, irrigation and agriculture – drones are more and more frequently the tools of choice for precision, speed and efficiency in mapping and surveying.
Drones for Mapping
Mapping is the creation of a graphical representation of spatial data. In a geographical context, mapping is necessary to create useable representations of scaled natural features like waterways and forests, along with man-made features like airports, roads, and industrial sites.
Mapping is by definition time-sensitive, since assets and geographical features tend to change over time with exposure to natural forces like wind and water. This means that mapping needs to be constantly repeated to remain accurate.
Mapping was revolutionized by the introduction of aerial photography – via hot air or helium balloons, airplanes and later helicopters. Advanced technology has enabled even greater mapping capabilities – airborne ground-penetrating radar, Lidar, thermal photography, and others.
Yet wide-scale and frequent aerial photography for mapping remains expensive – demanding dedicated personnel and equipment. Drones changed this equation radically and have pushed advanced mapping capabilities even further into the zone of affordability and accessibility. Drones are cost-effective to operate and can be pre-programmed– for example – to fly a set route on a set schedule, ensuring that mission-critical maps are always up to date.
Drones for Surveying
Surveying determines the terrestrial positions of points and computes the distances and angles between them. Surveying is used to granularly inspect a geographical area – defining its characteristics, boundaries, and potential for use. Surveyors leverage a wide range of methods, including 3D measurement tools, infrared and other sensing tools, and aerial photography. Integrated, the data from these various measurements create an accurate survey – yet this integration, often manual, can be time-consuming and costly.
Increasingly, surveyors use drones to accurately and quickly obtain the data needed for a given survey. Drones can carry a wide range of sensing tools and cameras, with payloads customized for a given mission. Drone-based aerial survey data is gathered faster, with greater frequency, and more efficiently than traditional human-operated surveying equipment.
Drone Advantages for Mapping and Surveying
• Better Data Resolution
A brief drone flight can gather far more data and his-res geo-referenced aerial images than a traditional on-the-ground surveying team. When analyzed in combination with mapping data using advanced surveying software, this facilitates a more detailed, more collaborative overall survey outcome.
• Better Remote Access
Drones can easily access areas that vehicles and humans cannot. Whether in areas affected by natural disaster, congested urban centers, or locations lacking developed infrastructure – drones enable easy and seamless access for data gathering.
• More Cost- and Time-Effective
Drones create more accurate mapping and surveying data in less time. For land development or industrial site surveying, drone-based mapping and surveying offers higher-resolution imagery than satellite-based solutions, obtained at a much lower expense. Overall, drones lower planning lag times and costs, while augmenting the quality of the plans themselves .
• Lower Risk
Traditional ground-based mapping and surveying in remote areas carries significant risk to personnel and equipment. Drones completely eliminate the risk element in mapping and surveying – mitigating both expense and liability.
The Bottom Line
Drones offer surveying and mapping stakeholders a new horizon of accuracy, efficiency, safety and cost-effectiveness. Advanced drone-based mapping and surveying solutions enable the digitization of an entire worksite leveraging multi-sensing and deep learning technologies. By combining state-of-the-art LiDAR, HD cameras, and thermal cameras with artificial intelligence, you can quickly digitize and reconstruct any worksite into a highly accurate 3D model from a single scan.