accuracy testing of mapping and surveying drones by drone2gis

The small drone mapping revolution rolls on!

accuracy testing of mapping and surveying drones by drone2gis

The small drone mapping revolution rolls on!  At drone2GIS Inc. we realize that our success depends on operational safety, efficiency and product quality. So behind the scenes you will find us time and again going back to our test bed for accuracy tests. That’s just part of an innovative surveying and mapping operation. Here you can see Oliver operating our MAP M4 system, equipped with V-Map for accurate camera exposure positioning, capturing yet more gigabytes of data for map quality validations.

drone2gis consistently tests the accuracy of drone use for mapping

drone2GIS UAS Mapping Revolution

The Mapping Revolution – Bringing the real world, to your desk!

drone2GIS Inc. is currently at the 60th Annual General Meeting of the Florida Surveying and Mapping Society (FSMS) in Naples Florida showcasing the revolutionary mapping capabilities of small unmanned aerial systems (drones) and Structure from Motion (SfM) processing software. With over 63 combined years of experience in general surveying, mapping and GIS as well as a combined 10 years of experience using UAVs for mapping, drone2GIS is your choice for high quality geospatial products.

In addition to showcasing our services, we are representing Micro Aerial Projects L.L.C. distributorship of the V-map System as well as the Bateleur Fixed Wing mapping UAV from Aeromapix.  If you are in the area, feel free to come visit us at Booth 3 at the Naples Grande Beach Resort and Convention Center today, July 30th 2015 from 3PM and all day on July 31th 2015. If you are unable to swing by to talk about our services and these fantastic products, feel free to contact us anytime! For a glimpse of our body of work, take a look at the following video:

For more videos, please visit our YouTube Channel!



Roadway Oblique Features





Affordable tools (drones, off the shelf high resolution cameras and structure from motion (SfM) software) are now lined up for efficient production of high quality BIG data – aerial images, point clouds and surface models can be delivered in very short times. But they constitute big, suffocating data for most standard engineering design applications such as CAD. The challenge is to efficiently extract the essentials from big data so that the engineers can get on with their work.

Figure 1 below shows an ortho photo of approximately 1700 foot of roadway, on average about 60 foot wide. This ortho photo was produced with Agisoft Photoscan Professional (an affordable Structure from Motion software package) from 382 aerial images collectively taking up about 3.7GB of disk space. Point cloud, surface geometry and texture together make up an additional 2.8GB. The Ortho Photo with GSD 0f 0.04’ in geotiff format occupies 127MB while the digital surface model, also in geotiff format, with 0.08’ grid size takes up 265MB. All of the 6.5GB of data was rolled out in a matter of less than 24 hours.  But in this form the data is too big for practical use in most standard CAD packages.

Road OrthophotoFigure 1: High Resolution (GSD 0.04′) Ortho Photo and Digital Survace Model covering 1700′ of a 60′ wide roadway

Figure 2 below represents an oblique big data view of a section of the road.

Roadway Oblique

Figure 2: Oblique view of big data, ready for analysis

Figure 3 shows the same view with features of interest vectorized and tightly draped over the 3D terrain.

Roadway Oblique Features

Figure 3: Common road geometry features vectorized and superimposed “snugly” on the big data surface model.

Figure 4, shows the ESSENTIAL data that was extracted from BIG data using Virtual Survey Tools.

Roadway Features

Figure 4: The essentials of road geometry, easily imported to CAD for further design tasks by engineers

Figure 5 below shows typical geometry features needed for road design work. Conventionally these features are surveyed either by terrestrial LIDAR or by real time kinematic (RTK) global navigation satellite system (GNSS) methods, both of which take substantially longer periods of time in field data acquisition and both of which require boots on the ground in the right of way for extended periods of time. Using small drones and off the shelf cameras the data acquisition effort, including ground control survey, is drastically reduced to about an hour on site, thus not only saving significant costs but also improving the safety of the survey crew. Using Virtual Survey Tools the features shown in Figure 5 were vectorized and exported to shp and dxf formats in approximately 8hrs – all in the comfort and safety of the office environment.

Roadway Vectorized

Figure 5: Typical road geometry features superimposed on high resolution ortho-photo.

The features depicted in Figure 5, when delivered in both dwg and shp formats together make up about 45MB of data.

The table below shows the relative storage requirements for the products resulting from a typical SfM work flow.

SfM Workflow

Table 1: Storage Space required for geo-spatial products generated in SfM workflow and subsequent feature extraction with Virtual Survey Methods


Figure 6: Relative Storage Space required for geo-spatial products generated in SfM workflow and subsequent feature extraction with Virtual Survey Methods.

And what about accuracy? Table 2 below shows a comparison of the coordinates derived from the SfM survey of 31 targeted check points with geodetic class GPS results.

SfM vs GPS

Table 2: Comparison between SfM and GPS results

Utilizing appropriate visualization and virtual survey tools, the high resolution of the original imagery facilitates precise capturing of geometric features such as shown in Figure 7 below.

RoadSurvey Details

Figure 7: High resolution of ortho-photo and digital surface model ensure precise capturing of features in the comfort and safety of the virtual environment


Small drones, off the shelf cameras, structure from motion (SfM) software and virtual surveying are the new tools for accurate and safe road surveying.