7 Facts About 3D Aerial Mapping with Drones

A lot of terms relating to modern surveying technology get muddled and used interchangeably: 3D drone scanning, laser scanning, LiDAR scanning, UAV surveying, photogrammetry, laser drone surveying, drone LiDAR, etc.

Clear as mud, right?  But removing all the technical jargon leaves us with an easy-to-grasp concept.  All of these technical terms describe methods of precision data collection—either ground-based (using tripods or aerial ( using drones, helicopters, or airplanes)--for input into industry-specific software.

So many industries now turn to drones for applications as varied as solar farm inspections and underground mine mapping.  It pays to learn a little bit about how it works and what it can do.

Here are 7 Facts to Help Sort Out 3D Mapping with Drones

  1. UAV photogrammetry allows a series of overlapping 2D photographs to be combined in order to create 3D representations of objects such as topographical maps, as-builts, and models used to calculate flood stages, to name just a few. While flying a grid pattern over the targeted area, drone pilots take millions of overlapping digital images while simultaneously recording the ground control points for reference.
  2. Every individual data point has a unique X, Y, and Z coordinate. These represent latitude, longitude, and elevation. The combination of these three coordinates allows for the production of detailed 3D maps and models. Taken together, all of these data points in space comprise a point cloud. Very high-resolution point clouds may contain hundreds of these data points for a single square meter.
  3. For high-precision projects, certain UAV LiDAR sensors can be used instead of photogrammetry to scan the object or area and create point clouds in a single step.
  4. The amount of data amassed in a single point cloud from photogrammetry or LiDAR defies the imagination. The most technologically advanced 3D scanners (LiDAR sensors) can collect over one million points of data per second.
  5. A massive amount of extremely precise data can be collected in a single drone flight. Data from survey-grade ground control and fixed wing and quadcopter drones captures data accurate to within +/- 3 – 6 cm (1.2 - 2 in).
  6. Once point clouds from photogrammetry or LiDAR sensors are joined into a project file they can be imported into the required 3D modeling software. Almost every industry now relies on maps and models produced by such software.  3D topographical maps and models, for instance, paint digital pictures of physical terrain needed in the fields of engineering, construction, transportation, mining, manufacturing, forensics, insurance, and a host of other industries.
  7. Drone surveying is not only fast, accurate, and efficient, it is safe. A drone pilot works remotely, staying out of the way of chemicals, unsafe terrain, busy highways, and dangerous heights.

Drone technology and mapping and modeling software have made huge strides in a very short time.  Given the fact that applications unimaginable a couple of decades ago have now become commonplace, it’s hard to know what the future might hold.

Interested in Learning More?

Darling Geomatics has over two decades of experience in the surveying industry, serving construction, engineering, mining, energy, airport, healthcare and sports clients worldwide.  Trust us for on-time, efficient, accurate, cost effective deliverables every time.





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