Are Drones Good for Aerial Mapping?

Aerial mapping using drones is an exciting application area that allows for high resolution, high accuracy maps and 3D models to be created from drone-based sensors and cameras. Simply put, there are several factors that are important for aerial mapping; these include stability, autonomous flight, payload flexibility and long flight times.

Aerial maps and models typically consist of thousands of images taken from consistent flight paths and angles being stitched together to create one large, cohesive picture of the subject. Standard drones with GPS, including Vision Aerial drones, are accurate to within +/- 1 meter in these models. Through the use of ground control points to more accurately align the map or model, the accuracy can be improved to +/- 3 centimeters or better.

There are several software packages used in aerial mapping or 3D modeling. Pix4D, DroneDeploy, Agisoft Photoscan, CapturingReality and Autodesk ReCap are the top products. Which one is best for you will depend on your level of technical competence, the drone you’re using and, of course, your budget. Each do a good job in their respective strengths, whether it’s accuracy, speed, ease of use or output flexibility.

Some examples of aerial mapping applications that drones are participating in:


Hyalite Dam Infrared (Thermal) Inspection and 3D Model

  • Dam and spillway 3D modeling and point cloud mapping
  • Electrical transmission line inspections and 3D modeling
  • Bridge inspections and 3D modeling
  • Border zone aerial mapping
  • Private land and commercial site aerial mapping
  • Farm and agricultural aerial mapping and crop height modeling
  • Oil and gas pipeline aerial mapping and 3D modeling
  • Mining site aerial mapping and volumetrics
  • Highway and building construction aerial mapping and 3D modeling with volumetrics
  • Scientific research site 3D modeling and aerial mapping (vulcanology, wetlands, forests, refuges, littoral zones and more)
  • Hazardous waste and similar containment zones aerial mapping and inspections

When compared to manned aviation or ground collection, drones over order of magnitude improvement in collection efficiency both in terms of time and cost. They are being rapidly adopted in this area for this reason and Vision Aerial is proud to be leading the way.

Vision Aerial drones are exceptionally well suited for aerial mapping applications. A few of the main reasons are as follows:

  • Our drones can carry virtually any camera or payload so your aerial map can be created using any technology you like.
  • Our drones are highly stable, even in adverse weather or extreme wind. Aerial mapping requires precise flight paths and large overlaps to produce accurate maps and 3D models.
  • Our drones can fly autonomously. Aerial mapping and 3D modeling often requires large, repetitive flight paths that cannot stray very far from the intended path to maintain the data overlap required. This application is particularly well suited to autonomous missions.
  • Our drones have long flight times – up to 45 minutes depending on your payload and environmental conditions.

If you have a need for aerial mapping, 3D modeling or similar projects, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us!

Hyalite Dam in Bozeman, MT Inspection

Hyalite Dam Spillway Wireframe Model and Thermal Inspection








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