Drone Use For Topographic Surveying

Drone Use For Topographic Surveying

Posted by Lewis Soloff on May 20, 2018 6:00 am

I can see a drone filling a space between a total station for smaller jobs and and traditional photogrammetry for larger ones.  Does anyone have an opinion about the breakpoints between these techniques?  I am guessing about 5 acres for starting to use a drone and about 30 acres to go from drone to traditional photogrammetry. Of course this would vary based on factors, such as ground cover, detail needed, access issues, required turn-around time, etc.  By the way, I am referring to a drone that where the data is based on photography not lidar, and where ground control points are used.

Re: Drone Use For Topographic Surveying

Posted by Crystal Thomas on Jun 6, 2018 12:00 pm

I agree with your general breakpoints, but accuracy considerations must be taken into account.  Are UAS capable of using calibrated cameras?  If not, a calibration must be performed for interior orientation.  This would require extra work in the field and in the office.  Of course, once you've found your parameters, they could be used for future jobs as long as the camera was recalibrated at a reasonable frequency.  Traditional photogrammetry uses calibrated cameras and requires much less overlap between photos.  Triangulation solutions are more straightforward.  If accuracy is not much concern, then I would guess that the drone would be better (cheaper, quicker) for most jobs.  However, the total station (or GPS) still remains as the most accurate way to locate features or map topography.  

So, there are more things to consider than just project size.

Re: Drone Use For Topographic Surveying

Posted by alice taylor on Jan 18, 2019 1:18 am

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