Surveying Before & After Drone (UAV) technology

Surveying Before & After Drone (UAV) technology

Civil engineering has long been the leader in innovation for a long time, and it is no surprise for the use of drone technology recently. The use of drones to produce topographical surveys has very significant benefits for the civil engineering world.

Before the appearance of drones, all land surveys were conducted by hand. Land Surveyors are accountable for surveying a job site, collecting data to provide up-to-date, accurate maps and data about the location. This process was time-consuming and needed operatives to enter dangerous environments to create the land surveys necessary before planning, design, and construction.

Drone mapping is a time-saving way to create precise orthomosaics and then measure and create detailed topographic drawings from accurate, ortho-rectified aerial imagery.

Since drones can more rapidly collect data, drones are successfully integrated with survey workflows to conduct land surveys, photogrammetry, 3D mapping, topographical surveying, and much more with their capabilities to capture data from above.

Also, Builders use drones, or UAVs, to gather real-time project data and to understand on-site what is happening. Aerial surveying improves the tracking of progress and helps identify problems early before they become expensive or add weeks to a project's timeline.

The combination of speed, reduced cost, and high accuracy make it a growing trend to use drones in the surveying process.

Whether you're an accomplished surveyor seeking to increase your toolkit, or you're a drone enthusiast who needs to know more about how to use your drone, or you're just only interested in this excellent drone application, We have prepared this article to help you learn everything you need to know when it comes to getting started with drone surveying.

What is meant by the drone survey?

The drone surveying process refers to using a drone or uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) to collect aerial data with downward-facing sensors, such as RGB or multi-spectral cameras LIDAR payloads. During the surveying process, the ground is photographed several times from various angles with an RGB camera, and each image is tagged with coordinates.

Photogrammetry integrates images that contain the same point on the ground from various vantage points to provide detailed 2D and 3D maps.

From this data, geo-referenced orthomosaics, elevation model, or 3D project area models can be created using the photogrammetry software. These maps also allow information to be extracted, such as high-precision distances or volumetric measurements.

In contrast to crewed aircraft or satellite imaging, drones can fly at significantly lower altitudes, making the generation of high-resolution, high-accuracy data much quicker, cheaper, and independent of atmospheric conditions such as the cloud cover.

What are the advantages of drones in surveying?

  • Reduce field time and survey costs

Topography data collection with a drone is up to five times faster than land-based data collection and requires less work.

  • Provide accurate and exhaustive data

Total stations measure only individual points. Tens of thousands of measurements can be taken from One drone flight and represented in different formats (orthomosaic, cloud point, DTM, DSM, outline, etc.). The 3D model contains 3D geo-data in each produced map or point pixel.

  • Map otherwise inaccessible areas

The aerial map drone can take off and fly almost anywhere. You are no longer restricted by unreachable areas, dangerous steep slopes, or rough terrain that are not suited to conventional measuring tools. You don't have to shut down the highways or train tracks. You can record data during operation without an organizational overhead.

How are drones used for surveying?

  • Land surveying/cartography

Survey drones generate high-resolution orthomosaic and accurate 3D models of low-quality locations, out of date, or no data at all. This enables highly accurate cadastral maps to be created quickly and easily, even in complex or difficult-to-access environments. Surveyors can also extract features from images such as signs, roadblocks, road signs, fire hydrants, and drains.

These images can produce very detailed elevation models, contour lines and dividing lines, and 3D reconstruction of land sites or buildings after processing by using the photogrammetry software.

  • Land management and development

Air images captured by drones significantly improve and simplify topographic surveys for land management and planning. This applies to site mapping, allotment planning, and design, as well as to the final construction of highways, structures, and utilities.

  • Precise measurements

High-resolution orthophotos allow surveyors to conduct extremely accurate distance and surface measurements.

  • Stockpile volumetric measurements

This is also possible to gain volumetric measurements from the same images using 3D modeling tools. This economical and straightforward method of volume measurement is especially useful for calculating stocks in mines and quarries for inventory or monitoring purposes.

Using a drone, surveyors can collect many topographic data points and thus more precise volume measurements. They will also do so in a much easier manner than to collect the data by heading up and down manually. Since drones are gathering data from above, on-site operations will not be disrupted. The short time of acquisition enables the capture of a site snapshot at a specific point in time.

  • Slope monitoring

By using automated modern GIS analysis, slope measurements from DTMs and DSMs produced by drone imagery can be extracted.

Understanding the surface's steepness, areas can be identified and used for slope monitoring purposes, including landslide mitigation and prevention.

Through orthomosaics taken at various intervals, it is possible to track shifts in earth movement and determine its velocity. Such details can help forecast landslides and prevent potential damage to roads, railways, and bridges.

  • Urban planning

Developing increasingly dense and complex urban areas requires extensive planning and thus time-consuming and costly data collection. Thanks to drones, urban planners can gather vast amounts of up-to-date data in a limited period and with even fewer workers. The images created in this way allow planners to analyze the sites' current social and environmental conditions and consider the effects of various scenarios.

Thanks to 3D models, buildings can also be conveniently overlaid on their environment, giving designers and citizens an experimental viewpoint on a complex construction project. 3D models also allow the analysis and visualization of cast shadows and views.

  • Smart cities

Today, there are various ways that drones can facilitate the creation and maintenance of smart cities. Some critical applications include traffic management, planning and progress management of crucial infrastructures, security, transport and mapping, and daily surveying for monitoring development. For most smart cities worldwide, experts use UAVs to capture, aggregate, analyze, and deliver highly accurate and informative data. It significantly strengthens how operations, public participation, and community support are carried out.

We hope this article can help you realize how well drones will improve your survey potential. Drones allow surveyors to reach new heights regarding their speed, safety, and ROI. No wonder growing numbers of surveyors incorporate drones into their surveying toolkit.

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