In a relatively short period of time, drones have become a disruptive technology in many commercial sectors including surveying and agriculture. One key area where these flexible and affordable machines are used today is photo mapping. 

Drones and Photo Mapping

With high-resolution cameras and accurate geotagging from GPS data. Once you have the appropriate software it’s now relatively easy to create a photo map of any area of land. 

What is Photo Mapping?

In the past, you would have needed to take aerial shots from a high vantage point or using an aeroplane or helicopter. Even with that, being able to size and geotag those images was limited as was the stitching software being used. 

Drones have all but helped solve this problem in the last few years. Carrying high-resolution cameras. They can operate at a carefully controlled height and take individual still images of a location which are then stitched together using highly effective photo mapping software. 

If done well, the result is an accurate 2D map of the landscape. More sophisticated drone technology is also now allowing us to produce 3D maps. And the latest sensors allow us to deploy thermal imaging and airborne laser scanning. 

Drone mapping uses a process called photogrammetry which allows you to make measurements between objects and produce accurate topographical representations. These maps can be used for a variety of purposes and even imported into platforms such as Google Maps.  

Drones

The Benefits of Using Drones for Photo Mapping

The huge benefits of using drones for photo mapping are fairly evident. 

First of all, there’s the lower cost involved. Hiring a helicopter or aeroplane to survey an area of land is very expensive. A drone is light, flexible and can get closer to the ground than a traditional aircraft. It can carry in the back of a car or van and operates in almost any location. 

With the high definition cameras that are available nowadays. Along with GPS data tracking. Very accurate representations can be obtained in a relatively short space of time and with minimum effort. Essentially, the software does all the heavy lifting for you. 

Drone photo mapping is used in many industries and sectors today including surveying, construction, land development and agriculture. It’s also use smaller commercial ventures to create bespoke maps. That can upload to platforms such as Google Maps. 

Drones and Photo Mapping

Multi-Rotor Drones and Photo Mapping

If you are using drones for your business, your options will be between multi-rotor and fixed-wing aircraft. The former is more often used in photo mapping simply because it offers greater flexibility of movement. Multi-rotor drones also tend to come at a lower cost and can take a relatively heavier payload, in this case, the camera. 

Drone Mapping Software

The key to photo mapping is the software that is used. This needs to be able to create what are called orthomosaic photos in other words. Images that can geometrically correct so that you don’t have any distortion spoiling the map. 

A drone will take many overlapping images of a particular landscape. And these are then added into the software which stitches them together in order to form the map. Along with the image itself, a Ground Control Point or GCP is used to render accurate information. This usually consists of a fix base GPS that sends out signals to regularly correct information.

The number of different drone mapping software choices on the market has grown considerably in the last five to six years. Some are relatively easy to use. While others require a good deal of expertise. Here are just a few examples:

Integrating With Google Maps

If you have created a photo map of a specific location you can also integrate it with Google Maps. Simply head into Google My Maps and click on Create a New Map. This gives you the opportunity to embed your map along with the GPS data in both a KML and GPX file. 

Check out an example of HeliDrone Surveys photo mapping. This was using an orthographic mapping technique (CLICK HERE) and zoom in on the building below. Its a great example of integrating Google maps and photo imagesDrones and Photo Mapping

How do Drones help SurveyorsSee How do Drones help Surveyors from here. Surveyors find themselves operating in a whole range of different sectors including property purchases, land surveys, agriculture and construction. While it’s a profession that has normally remained quite static in how technology is used. Developments in drone technology have made a big difference. 

How do Drones help Surveyors

Drones lend themselves to multiple applications whether it’s for. Surveying land or checking over homes and business properties in urban locations. 

In the last decade, drones have gone from simple playthings and executive toys to serious disruptors in many industries. You cannot watch a film or TV series nowadays without a few seconds of some drone footage included.

How do Drones help Surveyors

The improvement in technology, especially where High definition cameras and other sensors are concerned. Is having a huge impact, even while the legal complications over drone operation are still being ironed out. 

Small and flexible

For your average surveyor, a drone is a fairly compact piece of kit to carry around. It can store in the back of the car or van and quickly put into action when needed. Drones are light and flexible and can use to survey everything from a large area of land to individual buildings. 

Compared to a helicopter or an aeroplane. A drone is able to fly closer to the building structure and obtain highly accurate images that can use in the evaluation process and report writing. 

Reducing surveying time

If you have to get a ladder out and climb up onto a roof every time you do a property survey. It can be pretty inconvenient not to mention dangerous in many situations. The use of a drone, in this case, makes sense. It can implement in next to no time and will cover large areas of a property in a short period. Taking high-quality images which can save and evaluat later. 

How do Drones help Surveyors

Reducing surveying costs and risks

The speed and accessibility that drones provide also helps to deliver on lowering overall costs. Not only does the survey take less time, there’s often no need for support teams to be included when exteriors are examine. 

Survey crews may also be subject to risks, particularly in remote locations. Drones help with reducing the potential for injury and limiting the size of the team needed. 

How do Drones help Surveyors

Accessing remote locations

One key area where drones are already being used in surveying is with remote locations. If you have a region that has dense undergrowth or marshland. For example, navigating it physically can be difficult and also perilous. A drone easily accesses these areas and, with the latest sensor technology. Various amounts of data can be collected easily and accurately. 

Another mention is the accessibility of buildings and getting into all those nooks and crannies. We can't see unless from above, here a drone comes into its own and the proof is there for everyone to see. Check out this photo - as the roof lights

where quite fragile the surveyor on site needed to see the condition of the guttering surrounding the structure

How do Drones help Surveyors

How do Drones help Surveyors

Types of Drone Sensors

While drones themselves are proving popular with surveyors. They are simply a method of delivering the right technology to the place. Of much greater interest is the growth in different types of sensor that can deploy in a variety of surveying situations.

These currently include How do Drones help Surveyors:

How do Drones help Surveyors

Surveyors, Drones and Regulations

As with any operator, surveyors have to comply with the rules and regulations that surround drone technology. Surveyors need to understand the legislation. As it relates to flying a drone in any urban area like a town or city. That includes having the right permissions to operate a drone commercially through the Civil Aviation Authority. Why not ask us here at HeliDrone Surveys to give you a quote

There’s no doubt that drones have proved an important tool for surveyors in many sectors. They are increasingly use for everything from property investigations to more complicated land surveys. Alongside these lightweight machines. The technology that is develop is also having a huge impact, revolutionising many sectors in the process. 

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