Aerial Drone Surveying vs Traditional Surveying Methods

March 5

Drones have changed the way the world works. The shift is most obvious in the surveying industry.

Surveying is critical to a huge range of commercial, civil and construction applications. If you want to assess a property, monitor assets, construct a building or plan maintenance works, you’ll need a surveyor.

But there’s a big difference between traditional surveying methods and aerial drone surveying. While traditional methods are accurate and reliable, they can’t compete with the efficiencies offered by drone surveying.

In this article, we’ll compare aerial drone surveying vs traditional surveying methods to see which one comes out on top.


Drone Surveying vs Traditional Surveying Methods

There are five major areas where we can compare drone surveying and traditional surveying methods:


1. Drone Surveying vs Traditional Surveying – Speed

Drone surveying is the clear winner when it comes to speed.

For example, it may take 2-3 weeks to deliver data about the stockpiles at a mine site using traditional surveying methods. The same survey could be conducted in just 1-4 days with the right drone equipment.

This is because drones can be launched quickly, and they’re capable of collecting huge amounts of data within a short flight. Aerial surveying also requires less set up and establishment time when compared to traditional methods.

Once the data has been collected, it is automatically processed by the accompanying flight software to create usable data sets in a matter of hours.

Modern systems even provide automation solutions. This allows the drone operator to establish a flight route that the drone can follow autonomously. Drones can even be programmed to carry out regular surveying tasks without the need for operator intervention.


2. Drone Surveying vs Traditional Surveying – Accuracy

The speed of drone surveys is a major benefit, but drones also deliver accurate results.

Traditional surveying methods can be highly accurate. With laser measures, LiDAR, Ground Control Points (GCPs) and advanced systems, it’s possible for traditional methods to yield exacting accuracies. But this takes time, with each data point needing to be collected painstakingly.

Drones avoid the need for hard work using GPS, GCP and Real Time Kinematic (RTK) technology.

Like traditional survey methods, drone surveys can use GCPs to establish known locations. This allows data to be collected with a tolerance of <1cm.

Additionally, some drones are fitted with RTK technology. RTK technology allows drones to be tethered to a fixed base station. The base station remains in contact with the drone for the duration of the flight. It coordinates location data with information captured by the drone to create orthomosaic maps that are accurate within 3-5cm.

Drones can also combine GCPs and RTK to provide millimetre accuracy, making them suitable for high-fidelity applications.


3. Drone Surveying vs Traditional Surveying – Safety

Manual survey methods can be hazardous, especially in dangerous or remote locations, or when working at heights. Aerial drone surveying allows you to use drones to collect data while the operators keep their feet firmly planted on the ground.

This dramatically reduces the risk to personnel during survey tasks like asset inspection, roof inspections, stockpile management and surveys in the Australian Outback.


4. Drone Surveying vs Traditional Surveying – Insights

Drones provide highly accurate information and draw insights that are difficult to achieve with traditional survey methods.

For instance, during a short flight, a drone can use LiDAR to create point clouds and 3D models of structures. These 3D models can be examined in detail, and they can be compared to previous models to check for signs of damage and deformation.

Having accurate, repeatable data like is one of the most beneficial features of aerial drone surveying.

Additionally, the data captured by drones is automatically processed by specialised software. This delivers results faster, and it can be adapted to provide a range of formats, including:

  • 2D drawings, 3D drawings and point clouds
  • Orthomosaic maps
  • Images and videos
  • Volumetric measurements
  • Infrared heat maps
  • Crop and livestock information

You’ll also be able to work with your drone service provider to extract the information you need. They will be invaluable in interpreting the data and turning it into valuable insights.


5. Drone Surveying vs Traditional Surveying – Cost

The speed and accuracy of drones adds up to one major thing: cost savings.

Drone aerial surveying can save you a substantial amount of money, time, labour and hassle. This is especially true for businesses that need to perform regular or repeated surveys, such as agricultural operations.

Large-scale clients can save tens of thousands of dollars per week on their regular survey requirements simply by switching to drone technology.

The best way to access these savings is to work with a third party provider. While some businesses may benefit from maintaining in-house drone platforms and surveyors, this generally requires a large outlay, as well as ongoing maintenance costs.

Contracting a third party provider saves the most money, and it avoids the outlay associated with hiring and training surveyors.


Streamline Your Project With Aerial Drone Surveying with Untolled Uncrewed Systems

Aerial drone surveying offers a range of benefits when compared to traditional methods. If you want to save time and money and drive new efficiencies, drone surveying from Toll Uncrewed Systems is the answer!

Toll Uncrewed Systems is a drone service provider that works with clients across the country. We offer drone surveying to clients in mining, agriculture, power generation, construction, engineering, emergency response and much more.

Our drone surveys collect highly accurate data and provide insights that are impossible to achieve any other way. Whether you’re planning a construction project, monitoring stockpiles or searching for a way to streamline your business, we can help.

Learn more about our drone surveying services online, or contact us for a tailored quote.

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UAV Training Australia and Advanced Aerial Solutions have merged as Toll Uncrewed Systems