The Advantages of Drone Surveying vs. Traditional Methods

Drone surveying has several advantages over traditional surveying; it is faster, less expensive, safer, more accurate and efficient, and can be used in a variety of environments and conditions.

male-engineer-monitoring-construction-site-with-dr-2022-01-18-23-55-14-utcTraditionally, surveying has been done on foot or with ground-based equipment, such as total stations or GPS receivers. However, with the advancement of technology, aerial surveying using drones equipped with LIDAR sensors has become a popular alternative. In this article, we will discuss the differences between drone surveying and traditional surveying.

What is Drone Surveying? 

Drone surveying is the process of using drones to capture aerial data of a given area. Drones equipped with LiDAR sensors emit laser pulses that bounce off the target surface and return to the sensor. The sensor then records the distance and angle of each laser pulse, which is used to calculate the location of each data point in 3D space. These data points are then used to create detailed digital elevation models, digital surface models, and other information that can be used for various applications.

What is Traditional Surveying? 

Traditional surveying is the process of using ground-based equipment, such as total stations or GPS receivers, to collect data and create maps of a given area. This method typically involves a team of surveyors who work on foot to collect data, which is then processed using specialized software to create detailed maps and other information.

Traditional land surveyors may be hesitant to use drones in their jobs for several reasons such as lack of expertise, concerns about the cost of buying and maintaining drones and the necessary software, fear of job displacement, liability and regulatory issues, and lack of understanding of the full capabilities of drones and how they can be integrated into their workflow. They may also be concerned about the lack of understanding of the regulatory environment and the need for proper certification and insurance. Additionally, some surveyors may be hesitant to adopt new technology and may prefer to stick with tried and tested methods.

Advantages of Drone LiDAR Surveying:

  • Speed: Drones equipped with LIDAR sensors can cover large areas quickly, reducing the time and resources required for surveying.
  • Safety: Drones can be used to survey areas that are difficult or dangerous for human surveyors to access, such as steep slopes or remote locations.
  • Cost-effective: Drones are less expensive to operate than traditional ground-based equipment, making aerial surveying a more cost-effective option.
  • High-resolution: Drones equipped with LIDAR sensors can capture high-resolution data, providing detailed information for a variety of applications such as creating digital elevation models and digital surface models.
  • Ability to penetrate through foliage and clouds: LIDAR sensors can capture data even through foliage and clouds, making it possible to survey and map large areas of forests, mines, and coastal areas.

Limitations of Traditional Surveying:

  • Time-consuming: Traditional surveying methods can take a long time to cover large areas.
  • Safety: Traditional surveying methods can be dangerous, particularly in remote or hazardous areas.
  • Cost: Traditional surveying methods can be expensive, particularly when covering large areas.

Land surveyors should consider adding drones to their business as it can greatly increase the efficiency and accuracy of their work while also reducing costs. Drones can cover large areas quickly, allowing for faster data collection and processing, which can speed up project completion times and increase productivity. Additionally, drones are equipped with high-resolution cameras and other sensors that can capture highly accurate data, improving the precision of survey results.

The use of drones also reduces the need for repeat visits and can access areas that are difficult or dangerous for humans to reach, such as steep terrain or hazardous sites. Furthermore, drones can be used in a variety of environments and conditions, such as during inclement weather or at night. By incorporating drones into their business, traditional land surveyors can stay competitive and continue to provide top-quality services to their clients.

Visit to learn more about ROCK Robotic's survey-grade LiDAR hardware and software.