Aerial survey means the collection of aerial imagery of any landscape using airplanes, helicopters, drones, and UAVs. The surveys are used in construction, agriculture, mapping, mining, forest, resource planning, risk mitigation, government sectors, and energy departments.
Modern aerial surveys provide absolute accuracy at minimal expense. They provide quicker air data collection with the help of high-resolution cameras, modern software, and ground control points provisions.
Photogrammetry is used for 3D modelling and digital twinning of sites, allowing engineers, construction companies, surveyors, and valuation experts to view the site comprehensively.
Aerial surveying is rapidly gaining recognition worldwide for its potential benefits. The global aerial imaging market was valued at $2.26 billion in 2020. It has been forecasted to reach $8.52 billion by 2030, showing a CAGR of 8%. It is safe to say that aerial surveying is on track to replace old-age ground surveying methods.
What are the Types of Aerial Surveys?
There are three fundamental types of aerial surveys
- Helicopter Survey
- Airplane Survey
- Drone Survey
Helicopters use Lidar technology to examine the surface of any site. A helicopter can fly close to the ground to collect high-quality images. It is preferred to collect survey data at acute places. Compared with airplanes, helicopters are stable in windy or bad weather conditions.
However, there are some drawbacks as well. As they involve crew, any crash can cause loss of human lives. It is risky to shoot 360 angles from a helicopter.
Airplanes combine advanced Lidar technology with GPS coordinates for aerial data collection. As the plane moves by, the site gets scanned. It is preferable for doing preliminary surveys of large-scale sites. They are mostly used while making initial site selections.
Airplane surveys are the costliest, and flying far from the surface is safer.
Drone surveys involve using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to inspect a site. These crewless air vehicles have cameras and sensors for efficient data collection and analysis. Drone data integrated with modern software is considered an industry standard. It is the fastest growing for aerial surveying, with an annual growth projection of 19.3% for the forecasting period of 2023-33.
Drones can provide high-resolution images of a site from all angles. They can fly quickly and lower to the ground without any risk. They are also the cheapest mode of aerial surveying. The only concern is drone flight duration, which is lesser than helicopters and airplanes.
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Applications of Aerial Surveys in Data Collection
The major applications of aerial surveying are
How Do Aerial Surveys Help in Achieving the Accuracy of Data Collection?
Aerial surveys are known for their accurate data collection. Any UAV coupled with RTK processing can provide surveying accuracy up to a few centimetres. The maps produced by aerial surveying are sufficient for measuring distances and performing area and volumetric calculations. Similarly, professionals use aerial surveys to make informed decisions about multi-million projects.
These features enable aerial surveys to achieve accuracy in data collection.
Aerial surveys provide High definition overview of a site. You can zoom in and out to observe the minute details of a site. Advanced aerial surveying on helicopters or drones utilises ultra-high-resolution 6 K cameras, maximising overall accuracy.
RTK -RealTime Kinematic
Modern drones come with in-built RTK technology allowing highly accurate GPS positioning. It allows surveyors to identify the mistakes during the survey and make necessary amends.
The RTK consists of a base station and a rover. The base station receives signals from GPS satellites to calculate its position. After that, it sends a signal to the rover for correction in GPS settings.
Geo-Referenced Flight Paths
Geo-Reference flights help monitor the progression of a site over time. You can pre-program a drone to follow the same flight path with geo-referenced flight options. Based on this, surveyors can observe the site’s development and correct any constructional and operational flaws.
You can equip helicopters or drones with additional tools for higher accuracy. This includes special cameras, LIDAR technology, thermal imaging, and crop-spraying equipment. It is particularly useful for drones.
LIDAR stands for light detection and ranging. By measuring the travel and return of lasers, it creates detailed models of surveying areas. Thermal imaging can detect leaks, defects, or inefficiencies in the structure by identifying the temperature difference of a surface. Based on that, engineers make necessary decisions about repairs and replacement.
Aerial surveying is the present and the future of modern surveying. It collects aerial images and videos using drones, airplanes, and helicopters. The technology collects accurate data using high-resolution cameras, LIDAR sensors, RTK technology, thermal imaging, and geo-referenced flights. It is used in agriculture, construction, the power sector, mining, sea surveying, urban planning, risk mitigation, and archaeological site detection.
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