Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are on the verge of increasing commercial demands. They have taken over the tasks of many critical industrial applications. Aerial mapping and surveying are also one of the essential applications that drones can perform efficiently.
The ability of drones to capture pictures and data from above has proved them vital in several surveying workflows. They can perform photogrammetry, 3D mapping, topographic surveying, land surveying, and more.
However, in contrast to the traditional methods, drones are more cost-effective and take only a fraction of the time to complete the tasks.
What Is Aerial Mapping and Drone Surveying?
Aerial mapping or Drone surveying refers to capturing data from above the ground using some sensor that is facing downwards to the floor. Different kinds of sensors are available for performing aerial mapping and drone surveys.
However, multispectral or RGB cameras and LiDAR are the indispensable sensors used for aerial mapping.
For aerial mapping drones using RGB cameras, a technique known as photogrammetry is used. In this technique, the drone captures the ground several times at different angles. A software assigns the tag number to each image with the coordinates of the location.
Finally, using photogrammetry software, the images are combined from multiple vantage points to generate detailed 2D and 3D maps.
What are the expected Data Outputs From Drones Mapping?
Depending on the type of sensor and method utilized for aerial mapping, you can have several different output results. Some of the actual output results are described below:
1. 3D Orthomosaic Map
A 3D Orthomosaic map is a 3D model of a piece of land. You can generate 3D maps easily using a drone.
All you need is a large number of digital photos of the site, and then a 3D rendering software will convert it into a 3D map.
2. 2D Orthomosaic Map
A 2D Orthomosaic map is a georeferenced 2D model of a land.
Thousands of digital images taken by the drone surveying combine to form a 2D map.
3. Thermal Maps
A thermal map provides the thermal image of the surveyed area. This type of technique is used to detect faults in numerous thermal applications. For instance, thermal mapping can be used to detect defects in solar plants by detecting hot spots.
The drone can also use the thermal imaging technique to detect humidity in tunnels. Using the thermal mapping drones, a surface with abnormal heats quickly shows up, and it becomes able to identify targets.
4. 3D model – Building Information Modelling
A 3D model of an object can be easily generated using a drone with an RGB camera. The drone rotates around the asset whose 3D model is desired.
The Building Information Model (BIM) provides various insights and key data to the constructors and the engineers. This BIM model helps in efficiently designing, planning and constructing buildings, etc.
5. LiDAR Point Cloud
LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a sensing technology. It uses rapid laser pulses to map out the surface of the earth.
LiDAR is advantageous when used to create terrain and elevation models and high-resolution digital textures for various industrial and aerial mapping applications.
6. Multispectral Map
A multispectral map captures the radiation from the surface and provides visuals beyond the visible light spectrum.
This type of technology is vital in agriculture applications and crop management. This kind of map needs a drone equipped with a multispectral camera.
7. Digital Surface Models (DSM)
Another significant deliverable that can be obtained by an aerial mapping drone is the digital surface model.
In this DSM format, each pixel has 3D Coordinated information, i.e., X and Y, and an elevation represented by Z. These kinds of models are generated from imagery captured by high-resolution cameras.
8. Digital Terrain Model (DTM)
Drones can also be used to provide you with a digital terrain model (DTM) which is also known as the Digital elevation model (DEM).
By using 3D photogrammetry modeling, the model can be manipulated by the bare earth. Each pixel of the data file contains the terrain’s elevation data in a digital format that relates to a rectangular grid.
3 Advantages of Aerial Mapping Drones
Drones in aerial mapping have numerous advantages over other traditional methods, below I’m listing the top 3 important benefits:
- Aerial mapping using drones is five times faster than traditional methods for capturing topographic data. The cost is also reduced drastically using drones.
- Drones can easily access areas that are difficult to reach using other means. Drones can easily access mountainous terrains with steep slopes to create specific landscapes and maps. Moreover, drones can easily take off and land at any point of interest; thereby, making them highly efficient in different site conditions.
- Measurements and models created using a drone are more precise and accurate, as one drone flight can provide thousands of overlapped imagery with geolocation data.
Importance of Aerial Mapping Drones in the United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates is the most popular destination from across all cities globally and is known for its unique architectural constructions, new trendy buildings, and skyscrapers.
Relatively, the construction industry is one of the most vital business indicators and revenue-driving industries in the UAE, and therefore drones play an integral part in it.
Since UAE is always on the watch to adopt new innovative technologies, they are looking forward to using drone surveying for smart city modeling. In intelligent city modeling, they have devised a plan in which the drone would survey the city for security purposes.
This new Emirate’s ecosystem concept aims to manage drones around cities and interact and coordinate with people. This new management system developed in the UAE would control various aspects of drones. Such as no-fly zone control, beyond-visual-line-of-sight, and automated flight permissions.
These are all essential aspects of the safe flight of UAVs in populated urban areas. The system will also serve as a testing ground for numerous different applications of drone technology. Therefore, drones are becoming exceptionally important in the United Arab Emirates and all around the world.
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