One of the major challenges achieved by drone innovation is the collection of geomatics (Land Study) data of landforms. Before a full application of drones, the task was often a bottleneck.

However, collecting these data through aerial surveys has made information gathering easier and more accurate. The drones or other forms of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) are widely deployed for this purpose due to the relative ease to use.

The Need for Using Drones in Aerial Surveying

Drones are made with inbuilt and attachable cameras and sensors. Some global drone manufacturers maintain some of the drone models to support sensor manufacturers who develop sensors and payloads connected to these drones for various industrial applications.

Sensors such as LiDAR payloads or RGB cameras can be used for this purpose; to achieve the surveyor’s growing needs, these drones are often controlled with a Smart Remote Controller to control the drone and to record and capture images.

If a drone is equipped with an RGB camera, it will have to capture images of the land from several angles, and each image is stored with its respective geolocation.

You can use Aerial Photogrammetry Software to create geo-referenced ortho projections, Point Cloud, 3D Models, Contour Maps, DTM of the surveyed area from processing the raw images.

With today’s drone industry and agile software workflows, you can trust the data captured by the drones to be more precise than data collected by traditional means.

The major difference is that data collected by drone images are obtained with less site time, fewer overheads, almost no repeat jobs, highest site safety, with increased human intelligence and skills compared to yesteryears.


How Drones Are Used in Aerial Surveying

There are several ways to conduct an aerial survey, but drones are more efficient, and here is why:

Drones in Aerial Surveying

  • Drones reduce time spent and financial implications: topographic information can be tedious to gather due to unfavorable landforms and weather conditions, such as high mountains, large rivers, or weather conditions with constant rainfall, very hot and dry climates, and strong winds. All these parameters will yield an increasing surveying cost.The use of drones is far more affordable, reliable, accurate with higher resolution than aerial surveys using crewed aircraft or satellite imagery. It also reduces the workload of on-field surveyors.
  • Data provided by drones are generally very accurate and highly detailed. With a single drone survey operation, hundreds of images can be captured. They can be processed and projected in several formats such as orthomosaic, point cloud, DSM, and contour lines.

  • Drones save surveyors from the stress of climbing into risky site spots, thus reducing safety incidents and site hazards. With implementing drones on-site for surveys, all surveyors need is a location within the transmission range of the Remote Controller along the area of interest. In truth, there isn’t as much need for extensive planning or site logistics to conduct an aerial survey using drones in comparison to other forms.

aerial survey scene

  • Drones make the volumetric analysis of site and construction materials easier. It is easier to calculate the volume of stockpiles, extraction pits, and spoil heaps with drones. A digital survey model (DSM) of the area can be easily generated by using drone mapping. On the other hand, a volumetric analysis conducted through ground-based methods can be less accurate, strenuous, dangerous, and time-consuming.


Industries that Require Drones for Aerial Surveying

The use of drones for aerial surveys spreads across several industries. Some of these industries include:

Agricultural Industry

In the agricultural industry, drones are used to map out landforms, which gives agricultural scientists and skilled farmers enough information about the probability of bountiful harvest of a particular crop in a particular location.

drone used in agriculture

Drones can be used to take data of slopes, available plant minerals in the soil, the water table’s distance from the soil surface, and the proportion of rocks to sand in the soil.

Drones can also be used for farm scouting, which involves the assessment of crop performance. Performances that can be observed include; crop stress due to inadequate soil water, plant growth rate, crop emergence, etc.

Drone maps can also be used to plan or monitor irrigation and drainage. Large ranches also employ drones to monitor livestock, which would otherwise have been tedious and time-consuming to monitor on the ground.

This information aids decision making and improves the productivity of agricultural enterprises.

Real Estate Sector

In the real estate sector, drones help investors or property owners distinguish the properties’ boundary. This makes renting, purchasing and selling real estate easier and faster, with an accurate commercial value.

Drones can also help gather information about properties’ location in a given environment, aiding town planning.There’s also a growing trend of using drone video footage to show potential buyers the properties they may be interested in today’s world.

Therefore, rather than drive to a location to inspect a property, complete drone videos are often attached to the listings or sent on request covering all angles and parts of the property.

drones used in construction

Construction Industry

The construction industry isn’t alien to the benefits of drones. It can be used to carry out site inspections, which may be threatening to inspectors.

Footage or pictures of drone operations can be gotten and analyzed from the comfort of the site’s cabin. Drones can be used for maintenance checks of fragile constructions such as uncompleted bridges or houses.

Mining Industry

In the mining industry, drones are employed to provide clear and precise quarry site conditions.

Drone images can be used to design a 3D data model of a mining site. If point cloud data is taken, a more accurate volumetric analysis of quarry material can be carried out due to the high dense point cloud. Miners can use drones to monitor on-site operations and also plan as drones provide information regarding how much of the mineral is left in the ground.

This easy to use feature makes on-site workers with little experience in traditional survey techniques conduct surveys with less assistance. And that is how drone technology is influencing the mining industry.

Security Industry

In the security industry, drones have reduced the cost of human resources and, by effect, increased efficiency and profit. Drones are employed for facility perimeter patrolling, anti-poaching surveillance, remote area inspection, traffic surveillance, etc.

Drones can inspect or monitor areas that would have been threatening or inaccessible to human presence. Recently made drones are equipped with Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) night vision imaging sensors, ensuring better perimeter monitoring in the dark without attracting attention.

Maritime Industry

The maritime industry is not left out of this. Sometimes, ship management teams have to survey inaccessible parts of a ship, such as ballast places and tanks.

While the use of drones on the high seas still has some regulations, it comes in handy during survey operations on the ship. Some operators use drones to transport small payloads between close by vessels or within the vessel.


Other industries where drones have been effectively applied include the military that recently acquired F-35s from the US to project a sturdier military presence in the airspace.


How to Plan Your Surveying Job?

Capturing video footage or imagery with drones might seem like a straightforward affair for most surveyors up until they get to the field—however, you need to keep in mind that the mission planning required before a surveying job is often twice as important as the data capturing itself.

drone surveying job

Regulations and other seemingly negligible factors such as weather conditions may easily affect your footage, or worse still, cause certain legal implications. To avoid such issues, consider the following steps before surveying:

  • Check your equipment and the regulations on drones in your locale

From drone battery levels to aviation restrictions on drones, it is paramount to have this information before heading out.

  • Plan your flight

A survey flight plan is often really helpful. This should help ensure that sensitive flight settings such as ground sampling distance and altitude are adjusted based on the flight requirements.

  • Check

This entails putting atmospheric and weather conditions into play and testing the most important functionality in your drone to ensure a seamless flight.

  • Fly and collect images

All you have to do now is remotely control your drone and take images within the confines of the regulations guiding drones’ operation.

  • Finish your images

Finish your images based on your earlier stated requirements.



For many people, drones are one of those toys for leisure or less productive activities. However, the commercial applications of drones in most industries has given rise to unprecedented levels of cost efficiency and better human resource management.

Experts are optimistic that drones will be employed in wider spheres to come like aerial drone mapping, and would have overcome any regulatory barrier restricting their use in certain industries like the maritime industry.

This may take some years to materialize; however, drones are the go-to aerial surveying and monitoring tool at the moment. Be sure to consider utilizing the benefits of drones for your enterprise.

Need more information on aerial surveying, reach out to GeoDrones today.

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