How Accurate is Aerial Surveying?

August 5

Aerial surveying technologies have quickly become a standard part of construction, engineering, agriculture and mining projects. Not only is aerial surveying affordable, it provides rapid results that can be used for all sorts of mapping, imaging, measuring and volumetric analyses.

The key to aerial surveying lies in its accuracy. Carrying state-of-the-art imaging equipment and sensors, surveying drones can provide maps and modelling with millimetres of tolerance. In the hands of a skilled operator, a surveying drone can be used to capture all sorts of critical information that can support decision-makers.

This article will discuss how aerial surveying has evolved to become one of the most accurate and reliable survey tools available today.


What Makes Aerial Surveying so Accurate?

Using drone surveying services to perform aerial surveying for construction, engineering and mining projects has quickly become an industry standard. With the ability to rapidly cover large areas and capture images, videos and sensor data, aerial surveying drones are an excellent tool for informing decisions and improving project outcomes.

Despite their benefits and advanced imaging technologies, the true benefit of aerial surveying comes from the accuracy of the data. While drones can be used to capture data quickly, this doesn’t diminish the quality of the information they collect. Accuracy in aerial surveying is achieved through the use of several control methods.

These control methods set reference points with known locations that allow the information collected by a drone to be processed into highly accurate survey results. Achieving this is usually done with one of the three control methods covered below.


Ground Control Points

Ground Control Points (GCPs) are the traditional control method for aerial surveying. GCPs are a type of physical marker that’s placed on the ground in the area to be surveyed. Location data and coordinates are recorded for each GCP marker to help align survey information during post-processing. Aerial surveying drones are then deployed to collect data and imagery over the area marked with GCPs.

Once the data has been collected, the drone returns to the operator and post-processing software translates the information into usable survey results. The surveying software uses the GCPs as reference points to help line up images, videos and other data, making the results as accurate as possible.

GCPs provide highly accurate results, but each marker needs to be physically laid out by ground teams, meaning they aren’t ideal for use in difficult terrain or large areas.


Post-Processing Kinematic

Unlike GCP methods which use physical markers as reference, Post-Processing Kinematic (PPK) technology requires no on-the-ground control points. Instead, PPK makes use of global positioning satellites (GPS) to calibrate the data and produce accurate survey results.

GPS technology has been used by surveyors for decades, but only in recent years has it been combined with drones for aerial surveying purposes. A survey using PPK requires no physical control points, just a GPS base station that collects coordinates and location information during the flight.

Once the aerial survey is complete and the drone’s information has been retrieved, post-processing software combines the data with the GPS information to produce the final results. Processing times can be substantial, depending on the size of the project, but PPK technology allows aerial surveys to be conducted over inaccessible terrain with minimal set up work.


Real-Time Kinematic

Our final control system, Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) technology relies on the same principles as PPK surveys. Data from an aerial surveying drone is combined with GPS information to produce highly accurate results that don’t require teams to set up physical control points.

The key difference is that RTK surveys process the data that’s being collected in real time. By connecting the GPS base station to the drone’s controller, surveying software can process the images and location information during the flight.

This can significantly reduce the time it takes to capture accurate survey data and produce information that’s suitable for immediate use in the decision-making process.


Support Your Next Project with Aerial Surveying from Toll Uncrewed Systems

Aerial surveying provides the ideal solution for a wide range of construction, engineering, mining, civil and commercial projects. Capable of capturing highly accurate data across large areas and inaccessible terrain, drone aerial mapping and surveying technologies can deliver the information you need.

Toll Uncrewed Systems are aerial surveying specialists, and our CASA certified operators offer safe, rapid and cost-effective surveying solutions for projects of all sizes. From thermal imaging to agriculture drone spraying, our post-processing software can translate complex aerial data and GPS information into the accurate results you need.

Contact us today to find out more about what we do or to book our drone services!


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