Aerial Drone Surveying Is Revolutionizing the Future of Design Surveying

December 21, 2017 7:55 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

As drone technology continues to advance and become more common, many industries are evolving to make use of it. One such industry is surveying—now, more than ever, we are seeing a push toward aerial surveying in Mobile, AL as drone and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology advances.

According to a study by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, drones will have an impact on the economy of about $82 million by 2025. In 2015, 19 percent of respondents in a poll of surveyors reported using unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and that number doubled to 38 percent in 2016.

Here are a few of the issues facing surveyors in the coming years.

Choice of aircraft

The three types of aircraft most commonly used for aerial data acquisition in the surveying industry are planes, helicopters and drones. Helicopters are often chosen for low, slow-flying projects such as patrolling, mapping and inspection.

The choice between an airplane and a drone can be difficult. Typically, an airplane is the best choice for large-area data collection, especially in areas where FAA regulations restrict drone flights (manned flights have fewer restrictions). Airplanes are also less costly in these types of large-scale projects.

For smaller, more local projects or for work that cannot be performed by a manned aircraft, drones are ideal, though even small projects can be accomplished with an airplane.

The decision also comes down to the flight and positional accuracy specifications, as flight planners must match accuracy needs with altitude, speed and the type of aircraft needed to meet the project goals.

Photogrammetry vs. LiDAR

Either clients will directly dictate to surveyors which sensor systems will be used in a project, or the needs of those clients will guide the surveyor to make the choice themselves.

Most remote mapping and sensing processes require imagery and a point cloud. Photogrammetry can be implemented to derive this point cloud from images, or the point cloud can be collected more directly with the use of a LiDAR sensor.

LiDAR is typically a more expensive option than photogrammetry, but there are other key differences as well. For example, LiDAR uses active sensor technology, meaning it is able to push through vegetation and reflect off of the ground. Point clouds derived from photogrammetry, meanwhile, will only show the surface of things. This means LiDAR has one advantage in the sense that it provides both the surface and bare earth elevations that photogrammetry cannot provide.

Photogrammetry’s cost-effectiveness, however, makes it useful for other applications, especially where there is little or no vegetation in an area.

Many surveying experts expect that as LiDAR technology becomes less costly, it will ultimately dominate 3D modeling and aerial surveying services in Mobile, AL.

These are just a couple of the major trends and issues related to the field of aerial surveying. For more information about our services, contact a land surveyor in Mobile, AL today at Polysurveying. We look forward to answering any questions you may have for us, and are excited to work together!

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