Drone surveying is the application of drone technology to collecting topographic survey data. It is typically conducted using photogrammetry processing or LiDAR sensors for point collection. Compared to traditional methods, drone surveying is a fast, cost-effective, and significantly safer way to collect topography data.
Fast, accurate surveying
Because a drone can quickly and autonomously fly across a region of interest in a specific pattern—taking hundreds of high-resolution photos in a matter of minutes—drone surveying is often a significantly faster process than traditional topographic surveying. These images can then be wirelessly uploaded to the a secure cloud, where they are processed in cloud-based photogrammetry engines—such as Pix4D—and turned into accurate orthomosaics, point clouds, 3D meshes, and more. Topography data created by drone-based photogrammetry processing creates significantly more survey points than traditional methods.
Drone surveying is often safer than traditional topographic surveying, because it helps keep surveyors out of harm’s way. They can avoid, for example, having to climb a stockpile and risk falling, and instead use a drone to safely collect volumetric data while they can safely stay on the ground. Drone operators need only maintain line of sight with the drone as it conducts its flight.
Due to the relatively low cost of camera drones and mapping software, drone surveying tends to be significantly cheaper than traditional surveying methods. Off the shelf “prosumer” drones, such as the DJI Inspire 2 or DJI Phantom 4 Pro, easily connect to drone surveying software like Site Scan, which can autonomously fly a drone and take photos.
For more information on a complete drone surveying workflow, take a look at this case study from All American Surveying, a Texas-based surveying firm that added drones to their toolkit.
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