Using Drones for Surveying: A Comprehensive Guide

Drones are becoming an increasingly popular tool in the cartographic and topographic industry. They can be used to perform 3D mapping, topographic surveys, photogrammetry and topography work with great accuracy and efficiency. Drone land surveying involves the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to assess large plots of land. Equipped with high-tech downward-facing sensors and cameras, a drone can quickly capture images and data in the terrain below it.

Advanced mapping software then processes the drone's data and converts it into high-quality 3D maps and models that accurately represent the Earth's geography and topography. Instead of using theodolites, infrared reflectors and GPS, land surveyors can now use drones that are piloted autonomously with the push of a button. These drones are capable of producing results equivalent to those of the tools mentioned above, without all the heavy lifting and exhaustion. This, in turn, would allow surveyors to be more secure, spend less time on each site visit, and save or rebudget money. The drones used for topography are equipped with integrated cameras that take pictures of the ground from different points in the air.

The images are labeled with geographical coordinates that are captured by a GNSS sensor on the drone, which indicates exactly where that image is in space. The image is “compared to known points on the ground using RTK or PPK processing (we'll discuss the difference between RTK and PPK processing later). The photogrammetric data you obtain when inspecting your site with a drone allows you to execute the job more accurately, reducing the likelihood of receiving change orders. Drone technology has revolutionized the way heavy civil and earthmoving industries inspect their worksites. For these reasons, Propeller recommends using PPK instead of RTK to perform drone inspections anywhere, including construction sites, mines, aggregates, and landfills.

Here are some of the common workflows that earthmoving companies can report on using data from their drone surveys processed by Propeller: Orthomosaic and digital surface model created from aerial images taken by the WingtraOne topographic and cartographic drone. They use a drone study to assess the current characteristics of an area and then monitor changes over time. Drone topography allows civil construction works to be mapped and measured with great precision, reducing the need for manual surveys, which are more expensive and time consuming. Using a drone to inspect materials from a potential workplace helps ensure that the prices you send to the contractor are accurate and that you will receive compensation for the work you do. In addition, with the right processing platform, such as Propeller, you can get the data you need from every drone flight and ensure that you are compensated for the work you do, thus obtaining a significant return on your investment in a drone program. During a drone study with an RGB camera, the floor is photographed several times from different angles and each image is labeled with coordinates.

In traditional drone topography, a sufficient number of known points are needed to verify and fix drone images to the ground. A traditional ground survey team may need a month to map a dangerous 100-acre site, but a mapping drone can complete the same task in less than half an hour. Compared to surveys conducted with airplanes and helicopters, drones produce better results at a lower cost. In conclusion, drones have become an invaluable tool for surveying land quickly and accurately. They provide surveyors with an efficient way to collect data without having to manually measure each point onsite.

With advanced mapping software processing their data into high-quality 3D maps and models, drones have revolutionized land surveying.