The Equipment | Drones - Accuracy and Opportunity for Surveyors

  Our Consulting & Services Manager, Shawn Herring, wrote a great article on surveying industry insights on drones. Here's a portion of the article:

Drones, drones, drones!  Over the past few years this may be the biggest industry trend for land surveyors and civil engineers, and probably just as important of a shift as GPS data collectors.

I started a surveying firm in 2010 with a focus on ALTA surveys, general boundary and topo projects, mass volume calculations, as well as construction staking.  We then got into a little LiDar scanning and really jumped into aerial data capture about 5 years ago and have never looked back!

I love data capture, whether from the ground or from the air, and trying to keep up with the daily technology trends and advances can sometimes be overwhelming.  I thought I’d put together this article on some of the lessons we’ve learned over the past few years when it comes to utilizing a drone in our survey department.

The Equipment

For the sake of this article, I won’t get into RTK drones or LiDar drones and will focus mainly on photogrammetry.  I also won’t tell you that you HAVE to buy XYZ drone.


Aside from your standard day to day survey equipment, the selection of drones in the marketplace can be pretty overwhelming!  It seems like every day I’m sent a new article or news story about a new drone hitting the market.  I’ve used several different drones over the past few years.  Some that I have used are:


·         DJI Phantom 4 Pro (v2) – This is a fantastic drone for just getting started, and your accuracies for most project will be more than acceptable.  And at the price point you can afford to take the training wheels off and not be afraid to crash!  There is also a great entry level RTK option with the P4P.


·         DJI Inspire and/or Matrice 200 – These drones are bigger drones with a few more capabilities such as interchangeable cameras.  The Inspire and the M200 can swap payloads out.  For our stuff, we use the x4s andx5s camera, as well as an additional camera for thermal needs.



·         DJI Matrice 300 w/ RTK – I just got one and will let you know soon on what I think!


·         Yuneec H520 – Even in high wind environments, which we face a lot, this drone has held its own when it comes to data quality, battery life and stability.


·         SenseFly eBee and WingtraOne – For fixed wing drone enthusiasts, these seem to be very popular options.


If you'd like to learn more insights on drones in the land surveying industry, click here.