Drone/UAV Surveys

Drone surveys can be implemented across a range of sectors, including energy, construction and civil engineering, delivering highly accurate measurements in a range of formats.

Drone surveys are a relatively new technique allowing us to capture data over large areas safely and efficiently, even in otherwise inaccessible areas. 

Our team use the latest drone technology on the market to deliver highly accurate survey grade data and detailed imagery. In comparison to traditional methods, drone surveys allow us to collect point cloud data and high resolution images using photogrammetry techniques on large scale sites at a much quicker rate, even in harsh conditions and unreachable areas.

All of our aerial surveying services are performed by professionally trained in-house drone pilots who are qualified to operate drones anywhere in the UK.

Types of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)

There are many types of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, but the majority used for surveying are either fixed-wing or multirotor, both of which have their own advantages and disadvantages for different applications.

Multirotor UAVs

Multirotor UAVs are the most popular for surveying, offering a high payload, cost-effective option for data acquisition. Offering impressive manoeuvrability and ease of use, the compact design and vertical take off and landing (VTOL) capability of multirotor UAVs is ideal for rapid response surveys in both urban and rural environments. One of the disadvantages of multirotor UAVs is the reduced range and speed in comparison to fixed-wing UAVs, which are better suited to surveys of larger areas.

Fixed-Wing UAVs

Fixed-Wing UAVs are used to survey larger areas or for data acquisition over long periods, offering the advantage of increased flight time due to less energy spent climbing vertically into the air. This makes them more suitable than multirotor systems for projects that require large amounts of data. The main disadvantage is that they are generally slower, less manoeuvrable and less accurate than multirotor UAVs.

Benefits of drone surveys

Acquisition for an extensive survey that would typically take a team of surveyors several days to perform can be achieved by UAV in a fraction of the time; a single drone flight produces thousands of data points. Combined with the right skill set and software, UAV drone surveys can acquire high-resolution data with sub-centimetre accuracy.

Results can be faster and more cost-effective for Clients where repeat surveys are needed to monitor environmental conditions or provide situational analysis on an ongoing basis.

There are several benefits to performing a drone survey:

Drone surveying is quick and efficient

Performing an aerial survey is quicker and can save time, especially over large areas.

Drones can reach areas that are inaccessible

A drone survey can be performed in harsh terrain unsuitable for traditional land based methods,

Aerial surveys can bring safety benefits

Reduction in risk to staff and the environment, for example, while surveying on unsafe steep slopes, roof inspections, or train tracks.

Aerial surveys can be lower cost

As the technology available to drones advances, drone surveying will become cheaper and more accessible.

Drone surveys have environmental benefits

Drones produce minimal carbon emissions when compared to other methods such as satellite imagery, increasing data accuracy and reducing contribution to global warming.

UAV surveys are accurate

As drones fly at a stable height and speed, they can provide details and high resolution imagery with absolute accuracy.

What steps are involved with a drone survey?

As with traditional surveys, an aerial mapping drone survey consists of several steps, from planning to analysis. Here is an outline of what you can expect:

1. Understanding the requirements

The first step is to understand the requirements, the area to be surveyed, and the datasets that will be used to produce the final deliverables. This will entail the type of imagery required, the ground control framework, and any other specifications such as those relating to resolution or photogrammetry.

2. Planning the flight route

The flight plan needs to be developed based on all structural and infrastructural elements that need to be included within the survey area. The flight path also requires consideration of the equipment being used, whether a single DJI drone with gimbal and camera or a multirotor UAV fitted with LiDAR. Aerial surveys are only carried out if tightly regulated, so before drones can be used for any kind of data acquisition, there must be an understanding of the requirements to comply with CAA regulations.

3. Preparation of flight mission

Before acquisition can commence, both the ground control station (GCS) and the drone need to be set up. Preparation includes charging batteries, pre-flight check of the equipment, and establishing communication with the GCS.

4. During the flight mission

The pilot will fly the site survey area following the pre-determined flight plan. When the acquisition is complete, the data is downloaded onto a computer, where it can be analysed and processed to meet the requirements of the project.

5. Site survey analysis

The data is then processed to produce the required deliverables, which could include orthophotos, DSM, 3D models.

How long does an aerial survey take?

The time it takes to complete a survey varies depending on the site project area size and the complexity of data needed. Compared to other survey services, which may be time-consuming, expensive, and require additional time for ground team preparation, drones are able to complete site surveys with minimal cost per square metre.

Drone survey datasets

In comparison to standard topographic data, the use of drone surveys can provide a highly accurate survey-grade data set to reduce site risk and ultimately improve safety for construction workers. Our surveyors acquire process and present UAV survey data differently depending upon the site and requirements. 

Gathered aerial data can be supplied in deliverable formats such as orthophoto, digital terrain model (DTMs), Digital Surface Models (DSM), point clouds, Revit and AutoCAD using both survey and photogrammetry software.

How much does a drone survey cost?

Drone surveying can be highly cost efficient. The cost of UAV survey equipment has dropped dramatically over the past few years and is now comparable to other technologies.

Reduced cost equipment, including cameras and flight controllers, has made aerial surveying accessible to smaller firms. As the technology continues to develop, costs are expected to fall even further in future years. Software is also affordable for most companies and is no longer limited to large scale businesses within the construction industry.

Get a quote for drone survey services

Our team provide UAV survey services for clients from the construction, engineering, and energy industries; we design, develop and implement UAV services to meet complex survey requirements as well as providing as-built models for planning applications.

For more information on our services, contact our team for a no-obligation quote. Our services cover the whole of the UK, and we look forward to helping you.