Fast, Affordable 3D Drone Surveying Leaves Traditional Methods in the Dust

The Magic of Drone Surveying

In the popular 1960’s sitcom Bewitched, a twitch of Samantha’s nose made magic happen. In I Dream of Jeannie, whenever she wanted something done, Jeannie just crossed her arms and blinked really hard.

While not quite that instantaneous, in comparison to traditional surveying methods, drone surveying takes place in the blink of an eye. Drone surveyors deliver highly accurate,  near-real time maps and models within a day or two. To the earliest Egyptian surveyors in 1400 B.C.E.--or even to more recent 20th century surveyors–that would sound like magic.

If time is money–and many argue that it is–then 3D drone surveying delivers a resounding mic drop. Traditional surveying and drone surveying are not even in the same ballpark when it comes to the amount of time it takes to complete a survey.  The slowness of traditional surveying methods can contribute to costs running into the thousands of dollars for a single small acreage topographical map.

Safety First

Drones have the hands-down advantage over traditional surveying when it comes to safety.

  • They can be deployed from a distance, which means that the drone pilot stays a safe distance away from possible hazards. Heavy equipment including bulldozers, haul trucks and cranes  on a project site that might endanger a surveyor need not be interrupted.
  • Being able to deploy a drone from a distance is a huge plus when surveying steep or otherwise hazardous terrain.
  • Surveys of roofs, bridges, towers, and tunnels can be safely conducted remotely by drones.

Drone Surveyors Are Data Collection Heavyweights

In one test to determine the superiority of drone surveying over traditional methods, a 100 acre area was selected. The team using traditional methods took 3 hours to get measurements and collect their data. The drone survey was completed in 20 minutes–nearly ten times faster.

An even more impressive point of comparison was the amount of data amassed. The traditional surveying team collected 197 data points. The drone surveying team collected 1,539,963 data points.

Why pay an expensive traditional surveying crew by the hour as they laboriously collect a few hundred data points when you could bring in a couple of drone surveyors to complete the same survey in under an hour while catching a million data points?

Such a massive amount of data translates into:

  • more accurate maps, models, and volumetric measurements
  • more possible applications
  • less need to come back to a site because more info is needed.

Volume! Volume! Volume!

Material moved is an extremely important metric for construction contractors. Being able to accurately measure volumes can help both to budget a project from the outset and keep it on budget as work progresses.

Drone surveys are useful to determine whether to budget for the added expense of hauling in fill dirt.  Tracking the amount of earth moved during a project  and calculating stockpiles can further reduce waste. Drone surveys also allow for the verification of charges from excavation contractors moving materials.

Drones Enable Affordable Frequent Surveys

Fast, affordable, and efficient drone surveys can be repeated frequently as work progresses on a site. The ability to do this can be a game changer.

  • More frequent surveys can help identify possible problems sooner rather than later, possibly avoiding costly rework that can throw a project off schedule and over budget.
  • Getting ongoing near-real time data instead of relying on maps or models that are weeks or months old allows your team to communicate more effectively.
  • 3D models offer clear visualization of a site and the work being done on it. Conducting up to date surveys that provide such visualization can eliminate the expense of bringing far-flung team members onsite.
  • Having accurate data at the outset and receiving frequent updated surveys can reduce the chance of needing to make a major change during construction.
  • Repeated surveys provide historical documentation of your work as proof in case of a dispute.
  • If needed, new, accurate data is about 24 hours away.

It May As Well Be Magic

No, drone surveying is not magic, but in the hands of seasoned professionals it’s the next best thing.  To explore the possibilities for your next project, visit the experts at Darling Geomatics, an award-winning leader in drone surveying.


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