For 3D high-resolution aerial maps, thermal or visual asset inspections, stock pile volume analysis or any kind of process that needs aerial sensing, drone survey comes in handy to offer the desired result in a reliable, accurate, and cost effective manner without compromising on quality.
Different industries such as natural resource management, agriculture, and forestry all bank on UAV technology for the best inspection and aerial mapping services.
Land surveyors are embracing drones in their activities, greatly reducing costs and minimizing data collection time. Data obtained from drones is in the geo-referenced aerial digital image formats, with a 1.5cm resolution per pixel. Data points ranging in millions can be gathered within a single short flight.
eBee RTK survey drones save a lot of time. GNSS/RTK receiver systems are flying rovers with the ability to receive data corrections streaming through a VRS or a base station to achieve absolute X, Y, Z accuracy down to 3cm eliminating the need for ground control points.
Large amounts of data collection means more data processing time. This is however overshadowed by drones which make huge time cuts. Data collection that once took weeks to capture now takes just a day to achieve. This also translates to worker safety by reducing the risk posed to survey teams while making site measurements such as unstable slopes, mines, and transport routes using traditional ropes and Elevated Work Platforms.
Aerial inspection done via UAV technology helps in assessing assets and infrastructure that is deemed to be inaccessible, evading any isolations and shutdowns that were due to happen. The drone zoom cameras have a high resolution. They hover near assets and capture important details such as corrosion on bolts as well as serial numbers.
Live video feed allows for real-time viewing of the footage being captured during the flights, which can later be reviewed after landing the drone to inspect all the gathered image data before exiting the site.
Surveyors can capture different site scenarios and collect accurate data using drone technology. Some of these include:
- Inspecting wind turbine blades and towers.
- Pipeline inspections.
- Roof solar panel and solar farm inspection.
- Monitoring dam wall conditions.
- Lighting pole maintenance process inspection.
- Radio tower and mobile phone inspection.
- Tower and power line inspection.
- Performing roof and building fronts due diligence, and generating destruction reports.
- Post-maintenance validation of heritage structures.
A classic drone workflow entails:
- Flight planning which entails importing a base map, highlighting a coverage area, setting a ground sampling distance such 5cm per pixel, setting an image overlap, and defining a safe landing zone.
- Setting up on-site GCPs for complete X, Y, Z accuracy down to 3cm over 5cm and setting up the ideal shape and size of GCP targets set out by the GSD of the imagery.
- Making a flight which entails an independent flight, monitoring the flight plan progress or change through a flight control software, and automatically landing on the predefined landing area.
- Importing images contained in the onboard SD card and flight log, which are then geo-tagged in accordance with the flight log and generating a quality report while still on the site to authenticate the area covered and ascertain the quality captured.
- Analysis and production of deliverables where reference points, counter lines, digital evaluation models, and break lines are created, calculation and analysis of stockpiles and volumes is done, and the output files are exported in geoTIFF, dfx, LAS, obj, KML among other formats to other required external software.
Without a doubt, drones have gained popularity in conducting aerial surveys and have replaced traditional methods of data collection in diverse sites. Most surveyors seeking to embrace and keep up with emerging trends should consider using UAV technology to increase efficiency and boost productivity in their survey processes.