Drones aren’t just used in movie shoots; they can do a lot more. Commercial drones are used for aerial surveying, data processing, and aerial inspections. Speaking of commercial drones, one area that needs droning the most is mapping and surveying. By using these commercial drones, professional surveyors can easily ditch the hassle of spending agonizingly long days or months walking through the survey and measure the area. All the data are collected via the drone while surveying and aerial inspection and then used by the surveyors for accurate calculation.

There are undeniable benefits of using drones for mapping and surveying. For instance, different types of cameras can be installed for taking shots in several angles, low maintenance cost, rapid deployment times, optimized workloads, faster completion of surveying, accuracy, and much more. Today, we will be talking about these advantages in brief in order to understand the uses of drones in commercial service.

Benefits of drones for aerial surveying

1. Automated Mapping

As mentioned above, the surveying process gets easier if done with drones. This is because the drone is able to fly in ways a surveyor want. The drone comes with a controller for easy movement manipulation. The control points called coordinates support the drone to fly using a given altitude. This provides the surveyor with the angle and various movements to toggle with. Depending on the equipment and cameras used, the drone can take HD color and infrared pictures. 

2. Cadastral surveying

Cadastral surveying means taking panoramic views of land, properties, and structures. Licensed land surveyors use drones to define the boundaries of properties to measure acres, showing them to buyers or keeping information of lands and buildings, etc. All the information gathered is prepared in 2D cadastral projection for furthermore studies or doing researches. This mapping technique of measuring the boundaries, properties, and lands can be beneficial for the real estate and appraisal industry as cadastral surveying costs are relatively low than manual surveying.

3. Corridor surveying

Corridor survey is used for planning projects that include roadways, land, and certain infrastructure facilities. Aerial inspection drones are used to map and capture various shots of all kinds of infrastructure for urban planning, governmental planning, etc. Another advantage of using drones in corridor surveying is that all the pictures captured can be corrected and edited. Any errors and mistakes are of lens distortions, and the camera tilts, etc.

4. Volumetric calculations

Spoil heaps, stockpiles, or material extraction pits can also be measured using commercial drones. A surveyor or an inspector can generate a Digital Surface Model after mapping the site using the drone. Ground-based surveying may take more time than flying a drone over the site. According to mapping companies that use drones, it takes half an hour to survey a 30-acre site compared to a ground-based surveyor.

5. LiDAR mapping

LiDAR is a surveying technology that creates photographs and digital representation using a laser. This technology is used to map details of buildings, objects, grounds, etc., for clarity and functionality. The light emitted by the laser beam collects the reflected light using a sensor. The distance can be calculated by measuring the required time for the trip of the laser light. And using the results, a powerful computer can create well-calculated 3-D digital imprints in real-time. 

Top 3 Aerial Surveying Drones

One important thing to keep in mind is that not all commercial drones are best for mapping and surveying. You need specialized drones made for surveying and mapping. If you aren’t sure which one to pick, here are some of the best surveying drones.

Aerial Surveying Drones - Geo Drones

1. DJI Phantom 4 RTK

DJI Phantom 4 RTK was created almost 3 years ago, and it was a hit! This is because it featured some interesting specifications required for mapping and surveying a site. Professionals started using it for their surveying work, and thus it gained popularity. The Phantom 4 RTK has a 1 inch CMOS sensor, a 3-axis gimbal with a massive battery of 5870 mAH power. The Phantom 4 RTK comes with a controller, upgraded from its previous version. The controller comes with a hot-swappable battery and a MicroSD slot to store survey information. The controller also consists of an option for 4G connectivity for backups. For more flight control and precision, they launched a GS RTK app as well. 

2. Yuneec H520 RTK

Like Yuneec’s other drone models, H520 RTK’s design retained the same hexacopter pattern. The H520 RTK offers a varied range of solutions for mapping and planning. The drone consists of a built-in RTK module and a Network RTK base station. It’s an absolute favorite amongst aerial mappers and surveyors because it doesn’t have a fixed payload. It also supports high-end accessories like CGOET thermal camera and the E90 20 MP camera.  Another great aspect of this particular model is that it comes with PPK compatible mode. PPK is used for mapping surveys in areas where the drone to ground station communication is poor or not established. PPK allows coordinated data collection instead of doing real-time corrections to spatial data.

3. SenseFly eBee X

SenseFly’s eBee X is a user-friendly device and can be operated by beginners, so it’s convenient for new surveyors. The model is very functional and can accommodate both PPK and RTK features whenever they are needed. The device not only looks good but can also support many payload options like SODA 3D mapping camera, Parrot Sequoia sensor, etc., from senseFly itself and other third-party companies. The possibly best bit about this plane-like drone is that it can stay in the air for at least 90 minutes if the battery is fully charged. So, it’s best to survey a wide area of land.  eBee X is compatible with Pix4D. Keep in mind that while it’s flexible and multifunctional, it is also the most expensive drone. 

Final Verdict

Drone service companies are building new models each year to get to see more advanced drones in the upcoming years. With that said, these 3 drones are some of the best drones in the market for now. For mapping and surveying, it is best to pick a drone-based on these features: High-quality camera, Long-term battery support, Flight capacity, RTK support, and Flexible payloads.

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