Drone Map Solutions, Photogrammetry, and Accuracy: What You Need to Know

Drone Map:

The use of drones in day to day business operations is quickly becoming the norm in many industries. Drones are increasingly setting the standard for quality and quick response in various industries like oil & gas, insurance, construction, etc. Their reputation for exceptional aerial footage makes them a leading choice for small and large companies alike. Their propensity for accuracy, and ability to inspect large areas quicker than humans can has certainly become a huge asset for emergency response teams as well as the insurance sector. Although they are most commonly used to produce high quality photos and video throughout the inspection process, they can also be utilized for photogrammetry purposes.

Photogrammetry is a process that combines relatively inexpensive GPS drones, high-def digital cameras, ground-based GPS equipment, and powerful image-processing software to stitch together photos and create 3D maps and models.

There can be some misunderstandings when it comes to the validity of the information so it is important for end-users to know the types of products available and what the expected accuracy of the data is. It’s also important that drone technology companies walk through the data with the client.

Drone Mapping Software:

A typical photogrammetry mission starts when a UAS pilot flies a drone across an area of interest in a pattern that produces several overlapping photos. Similar to that of smart phone photos, these images contain unique location-based information such as latitude and longitude. The photos from the drone are later uploaded into a drone mapping software program where the user can work with the data and convert the photos into a drone map or 3D model.  The final products will vary in horizontal and vertical accuracy about its position relative to the actual location on Earth where the inspection took place. Statistical methods are used to measure any error from a point on the created map or model. Established industry standards will confirm the acceptability of the error depending on the requirements.

There are several factors that affect accuracy, some of which cannot be controlled:

  • Resolution – increased resolution (higher megapixels) typically results in increased accuracy

  • Image overlap – Drones need to take a lot of photos that overlap by 60-80% on all sides to ensure a more accurate photogrammetry process.

  • Shadowing – Changes in shadows or inconsistent shadowing from clouds may decrease the accuracy of the project.

  • Image contrast – High contrast areas generally result in more accurate projects while low contrasting areas, such as open fields, will result in lower accuracies.

It sounds complicated, but it is the service provider’s job to help the client understand what the accuracy is, how it is measured, and how the project is designed to meet the customer requirements. The best drone companies will be able to walk you through the process and explain the benefits in relation to your needs.   With the vast array of technology that’s available, accurate results can be produced to meet the needs of most industries – just be sure to use a firm that understands how to make it happen!

Please keep in mind that DataWing also has openings for drone pilot jobs available.