What is Drone Surveying? Advantages and Disadvantages of Drone Surveying Software

What is Drone Surveying? Advantages and Disadvantages of Drone Surveying Software

What is Drone Surveying?

Drone surveying (also known as the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) surveying) is the use of drones, either for mapping and data acquisition or to take measurements.

Simply said, a drone survey is an aerial survey done by a drone and it is growing in popularity.

Drones can acquire a large amount of data fast by using downward-facing sensors such as RGB or multispectral cameras or LiDAR payloads.

According to one study, drones can collect data 97 percent faster than conventional techniques.

This data may be used to generate a variety of products, including 3D maps and elevation models, as well as extract critical information such as very accurate measurements and volumetric computations.

How Drone Surveying works

Drone surveys involve taking photos from overhead, which share parallels with satellite imagery.

The drones take photos either from the sky or from a controlled height. The drones are equipped with cameras that can produce high-resolution images. When taking photos, the drones must be checked for maintenance and alignment.

A computer program then analyzes the photos taken by the drone and creates a 3D model from them.

The photos are orthorectified, meaning that images are aligned and corrected and any camera distortion is removed.

The images are then stitched together to create the 3D model.

The drone can also carry sensors that measure the height of objects so surveys can be conducted accurately. This allows for a more precise survey than satellite surveys, which use cameras with a lower resolution.

Benefits of Drone Surveying

The major benefits of Drone Surveying are:

  1. Drones can get closer to the subject than satellites and other aerial vehicles.
  2. Images captured with drones are in high resolution and allow for a more accurate survey than satellite surveys.
  3. Drone surveying allows for capturing images from angles that are not possible to take from the ground and can cover large areas quickly
  4. The aerial view helps give a better understanding of the properties of the land being surveyed, like the distance between two buildings, or the distance between a building and road.
  5. Aerial surveys help reduce the time and cost of surveys.
  6. The use of drones can reduce the risk of damage to sensitive resources because the focus is on areas that are most likely to be disturbed.
  7. Drones reduce the risk for human injury by removing humans from hazardous areas, like landing zones and survey sites where people could be endangered.
  8. Drones can be used to capture images of areas that are not accessible by hand, like mountain tops.
  9. Aerial surveys help maintain awareness of environmental threats and agricultural land use because the ability to see what is happening on the ground becomes more accurate.

Applications of Drone Surveying

Drone Surveying is applicable in different areas like:

  1. Forest resources management and monitoring (removal of litter)- The use of UAV’s enables real-time capture of litter, enabling landowners to monitor their forests
  2. Agricultural land management (determination of crop growth), crop yield, and biomass analysis- The electromagnetic properties of terrestrial ecosystems can be determined by using electromagnetic transmitters to accurately measure the distance between these electromagnetic waves; this measurement is used for high-precision agriculture and forestry parameters estimation
  3. Fish capture- The use of UAVs in the fish capture industry enables live stream vision of the catch at sea.
  4. Mining- The use of UAV’s for prospecting and infrastructure exists, but are still limited in scope
  5. Road’s monitoring- Drones can monitor roads for potholes or other structural issues that could damage cars or people using the road
  6. Structural monitoring- Drone cameras can be used to detect cracks or other structural issues that may lead to the collapse
  7. Aerial firefighting- Using infrared imaging, drone cameras can be used to detect hotspots and bring them under control quickly and efficiently
  8. GIS – Drones can be used to generate maps for use in geographical information systems (GIS) with the addition of a GPS receiver, which enables accurate mapping to provide an accurate view of the area as seen from the air
  9. Drone services for real estate- Drones can be used for aerial surveying and property evaluation in areas that cannot be accessed by other methods
  10. Flood control- Drones have been used to detect areas that are prone to flooding and could be at risk for flooding, allowing quick action to reduce the damage caused by flooding; when in use for flood control or prevention of damage, drones can be equipped with infrared cameras to identify the area’s most at risk
  11. Hazardous waste considerations- Drones enable accurate mapping of areas where hazardous waste is present, so that it can be contained and removed quickly
  12. Oil and gas pipeline monitoring- Drones can be used to monitor the condition of oil and gas pipelines for leaks or other damage
  13. Plant health and crop growth- Drones have been used in agricultural applications to assess plant health, including insect infestation, crop growth, and hedgerow trimming

Disadvantages of Drone Survey

Drone Surveying’s disadvantages are as stated below.

  1. GPS signals are transmitted by satellite and have a finite range, which can result in out-of-range location errors.
  2. The high costs associated with drones limit the use of this technology.
  3. Drones usually have a short battery life, so many drones are needed to cover large areas in one survey.
  4. Poor weather conditions can cause the drone to be grounded until the weather improves and flights can resume safely.
  5. The drone must be flown with a person trained in the operation of drones to acquire images and data in a way that is safe and effective; this increases the cost of using drones.
  6. Interference with other devices or radio signals may cause the drone to lose connection, which can also cause flight to be grounded until problems can be resolved.
  7. Drone operations can be considered private and commercial, which means that drone operators are subject to rules and laws and must obtain permission before using a drone in any location.
  8. The current level of safety is not yet at the level needed for the safe use of drones; there are still injuries from drone crashes, and crash rates are growing as better technology is becoming available.
  9. Drones can cause damage to property when flying too close to structures, or landing on objects or people on the ground.

 Drone Surveying Software

Drone Deploy

Drone Deploy was launched in 2012 and is used for real-time capturing of aerial images.


GeoSight software was launched in 1987 and is used for UAV Image processing, mapping, and analysis.

Drone Mapper

Drone Mapper was launched in 2011 and allows users to process large amounts of data from drones, including additional data from sources like Google Maps or Microsoft Bing Maps.

Data Pad

Data Pad is a platform that allows users to process large volumes of data from drones, including mapping and analyzing it.


SkyView is a platform that enables users to view drone images on a UAV, desktop or tablet device,

it also provides trending features, including the ability to display multiple views at once, making it ideal for real estate professionals who want to see what a property looks like from two or more vantage points.

Mobile Planet

it’s a platform that enables users to capture and share large volumes of imagery, making it ideal for large companies that need to record images of their property to make decisions; it also offers IoT (Internet of Things) capabilities, so users can gather data across multiple devices.

Precision mapper

Precision Mapper is a platform that allows users to process large volumes of data from drones, including mapping and analyzing it.


Flowline is a platform that enables users to view drone imagery on a UAV, desktop, or tablet device; it also provides trending features, including the ability to display multiple views at once, making it ideal for real estate professionals who want to see what a property looks like from two or more vantage points.

 Advantages of Drone Surveying 

They include:

  1. A large volume of data can be gathered with drone photography and video.
  2. The software is versatile, enabling users to vary the type of camera and camera angles used, enabling users to obtain a wide range of images from different points of view.
  3. The cost of processing the data collected is usually far less than processing the same volumes from aerial photography or photogrammetry, making it affordable for private homeowners or small businesses that may not have the funds for aerial surveying or GIS surveys but do have drones.

What Drones are used for Surveying

The Drones used for Surveying are:

  • WingtraOne mapping drone- WingtraOne drones are able to map estates up to 2,500 m2 (27,000 sq. ft.) and commercial sites of up to 5,000 m2 (52,000 sq. ft.).
  • TitanEye- TitanEye mapping drones are used for large-scale estate planning and aerial surveying projects of industrial parks or rural residential areas.
  • Take off and land vertically (VTOL)- these drones take off and land vertically, eliminating the need to build landing pads or hire pilots who are licensed to fly in specific areas.
  • 42 Megapixels / 0.7 cm (0.3 in) GSD- Cargopilot 12-M is a VTOL mapping drone that comes with 42 Megapixels and a 0.7 cm (0.3 in) GSD.
  • Down to 1 cm (0.4 in) absolute accuracy- The Tiny Hawk UAV by Survey Drones uses photogrammetry to gather data, resulting in a down to 1 cm (0.4 in) absolute accuracy and has a maximum speed of 120 km/h (75 MPH).

Other Important Considerations Before Using Drone Surveying

These are;

  1. Drone use is governed by FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations, which dictate that pilots may only fly drones under 400 feet in altitude and within their line of sight.
  2. Drone surveying is not permitted in restricted airspace, and the use of drones for surveying is prohibited in any national park or reserves.
  3. The use of drones for surveying should be done by licensed pilots who are also trained to operate drones, to ensure that all drone operators comply with FAA regulations and aviation laws.
  4. The FAA requires that drone pilots and operators have a way of tracking the drone’s location if it is lost, so a GPS device must be installed on the drone, as well as an emergency locator beacon.
  5. Drone pilots and operators should keep clearances in place with local authorities where they intend to operate any drones.
  6. Data gathered from drones should be processed by experienced professionals who are experienced with GIS and photogrammetry software, to ensure the data is processed accurately and professionally.

Drone Surveying  FAQs

How Do Drones Collect Data?

  1. A camera mounted on a drone can capture a wide range of images: aerial image, panoramic image, and stereoscopic image.
  2. UAVs with fly-through cameras can look down on buildings or other areas, while UAVs with fixed cameras can be used to photograph the same area from multiple perspectives and capture images with high-resolution 3D data.
  3. UAVs that use acoustics to detect changes in terrain can be used to detect moving objects like humans or animals.
  4. UAVs that have infrared cameras can be used to see through windows or other blind spots, identify the size and shape of objects in an area, as well as determine the best way to access these areas or places.
  5. Drone surveys require large volumes of data to process, which can vary from aerial photography to photogrammetry, making it ideal for surveying large areas of land.

How Accurate Is a Drone Survey?

Drone surveying accuracy is different for each type of drone, as well as the camera used on each drone.

The use of varying camera angles and distances can also affect a drone’s accuracy; the closer a camera is to the surface it is surveying, the more accurate that data will be.

What Kinds of Deliverables Can You Achieve with Drone Surveying?

  • W2D Orthomosaic Maps
  • 3D Orthomosaic Maps
  • Thermal Maps
  • LiDAR Point Cloud

How Do You Make Sure Your Drone Survey Is Accurate?

A licensed pilot and aviation professional should oversee all drone surveying efforts, to ensure that the drone’s safety and flight path is not compromised.

The pilot or operator should always fly drones within their line of sight, and make sure they have clear signal or GPS tracking capabilities.

Map data is only as accurate as the data received from the camera, so the camera used on a drone should be of high quality to ensure that all map data is of high quality as well.

How Many Drones are Used for a Drone Survey?

If a drone is used to capture an aerial image or video, and the operator wants to process the data themselves, then mapping software will be required for processing.

If an aerial image or video is captured by a drone and processed through drone surveying software, then only one drone is required.

If a drone is used to capture an aerial image or video, and the data is then processed through GIS software, then a separate drone will be required for each type of map being processed.

How Many Frames Does a Drone Collect?

At least 600 individual photos or frames will be required to create an orthomosaic map. The more frames captured, the better chance it has of detecting linear features like roads and buildings.

What Do You Need to Get Started in Aerial Photography or Surveying with Drones?

  1. A pilot’s license or a person responsible for supervising the drone operation.
  2. A drone and necessary components, including a camera, battery and SD card(s).
  3. Software tools to process data collected with the drone, specifically photogrammetry software like Agisoft PhotoScan and Skyline Photogrammetry PhotoModeler.
  4. A storage device for data storage.
  5. A computer to receive, process, and store the data collected with a drone.
  6. A ground station for drone control, where the pilot can view live footage from the drone and monitor its flight path in real-time.
  7. An area to fly a drone safely and effectively, away from any built-up areas or airfields.

How much does a Drone Surveyor earn?

In the United States, the national average compensation for an Aerial Surveyor is $74,075 per year.

How Much Does a Survey Drone Cost?

In most cases, a drone survey will cost between $30 and $120 per acre. However, those expenses might vary based on the sort of survey required and the length of time required to perform the project.

What is Different About Drone Surveying?

Drones can be used to gather a large variety of information, from thermal images of fields or crops to map out construction sites.

At the same time, survey drones are becoming more affordable and easier to use, making it possible for companies with small budgets or homeowners who want an accurate aerial survey of their property to accomplish the work.

Will Drones Replace Surveyors?

Drones might eliminate the requirement for a surveyor to personally visit a certain spot. Drones, on the other hand, should be viewed as yet another tool in the surveyor’s toolbox.

These machines are fantastic, but humans will still need to interrupt the information and utilize it to solve their clients’ problems.

What does a drone surveyor do?

Through precision triangulation, we may acquire exact 3D coordinates by shooting two or more photographs in various places. This service combines the precision of GPS navigation with the power of aerial photography.

How do drones measure land?

An operator pilots the drone across a landscape, snapping hundreds of photographs as it goes. The photos are then stitched and layered using computer software to create a model of the place.

This is also how drone photogrammetry works, with the ultimate result being a precise 3D depiction of the region.

How much money do drone operators make?

According to Glassdoor, the median drone pilot pay is $79K. The search phrase “drone operator” yielded salaries ranging from $33K to $44K.

Drone pilots make an average of $85,000 per year, according to job posting websites. According to our poll, expert drone pilots may make between $800 and $1200 in a single day.

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