UAV lidar and photogrammetric imaging applications are growing rapidly. This is not surprising, as aerial surveys using GPS- enabled drones are very cost-effective compared to renting aircraft with photogrammetric equipment . Because drones are relatively cheap, organizations will have their own drone fleet, allowing them to quickly investigate large areas of land and infrastructure projects when needed. With GPS- equipped drones, digital cameras and powerful computers, measurement accuracy can be as low as 1 cm.
This article comprehensively introduces this unmanned mapping technology, introduces the industry of drones for photogrammetry and lidar mapping, and some of the best mapping drones and compatible software on the market.
Another closely related area is the use of LiDAR sensors mounted on drones . This is another evolving industry where you can learn more about the use of LiDAR for drones .
In photogrammetry and lidar surveying, the use of quadrotor and multi-rotor is still in its early stages, but it is developing very quickly. There are huge opportunities in every field. Now is the best time to learn about drones, photogrammetry, 3D and lidar mapping.
If you are interested in the drone photogrammetry business or similar business, buy the best quadcopter and sensor. Owners of quality drone lidar and photogrammetry equipment will have a huge opportunity.
What is drone photogrammetry?
1. Photogrammetry is the science of taking measurements based on photos. The output of photogrammetry is usually a map, drawing, or 3D model of some real-world object or land .
2 , 3D maps and models
3. In order to create a 3D map by aerial photogrammetry , the camera is mounted on the drone, usually pointing vertically to the ground.
4. Create a 3D model of the monument or statue using photogrammetry , and mount the camera horizontally on the drone.
5. When the drone flies along an autonomously programmed flight path called a waypoint, it will take multiple overlapping photos of the ground or model (overlapping 80 to 90 %).
6. Overlapping 80 % to 90 % of objects or landing photos cannot be done accurately by pilot navigation . Having a drone with waypoint navigation technology is crucial.
unmanned mechanism map and lidar interpretation
1. UAV lidar involves installing a laser scanner on the drone to measure the height of the midpoint of the landscape below the drone. Lidar actually means (light detection and ranging).
2. Lidar scanners can capture hundreds of square kilometers a day.
3. By measuring 10 to 80 points per square meter , a very detailed digital model of the landscape can be created.
4. Accuracy of measurement makes 3D models created using LiDAR drones available for planning, design, and decision-making processes in various departments.
5. Lidar sensors can also pierce dense tree canopies and vegetation, so it is possible to capture exposed earth structures not visible to satellites, and sufficient detailed ground cover for vegetation classification and change monitoring.
6.Use of photogrammetry and lidar
7. Through the use of drone photogrammetry and lidar mapping, a variety of products can be extracted from aerial images. These products include;
. 8 , on DEM / the DTM / the DSM (surface model).
Orthophoto (geographically corrected aerial image)
13D building model.
2 contour map.
3 plane features (road edges, heights, signs, building footprint, etc.).
4 volume survey.
Here are some of the best uses for lidar and photogrammetry . All these areas benefit from accurate 3D images of their projects . They can also increase efficiency and reduce costs compared to using traditional aircraft.
1 Forestry management and planning.
2. Flood modeling.
3. Pollution modeling.
4. Cartography and cartography.
5. Urban planning.
6. Coastline management.
7. Transportation plan.
8. Oil and gas exploration.
9. Quarry and minerals (volume measurement and exploration).
11. Cellular network planning.
12 , the use of lidar and drones
This is a very specific article that covers all uses of lidar sensors and best lidar drones.
3D vegetation modeling
Note: Vegetation modeling uses multispectral and lidar sensors, not photogrammetric sensors.
V. Photogrammetry and 3D mapping cameras for drones
There are several drones with cameras that are ready for 3D mapping. In fact, any drone equipped with an interval meter on the camera is suitable. The interval meter triggers the camera shutter. The least captured photo is 1 photo every 2 seconds . The following cameras are all good for photogrammetry and mapping.
1. Canon cameras -S110 , SX260 .
2. Sony Cameras -QX1 , DSC-RX100 A7R , A7 , A7S , NEX-6 , NEX-5R , NEX-5T , A5100 .
3. Panasonic Camera -GH3 .
4 , GoPro camera lenses can NOT be used to create the chart. To get a decent effect, you must fly over 400 feet (about 120 meters).
5. In addition, integrated cameras on DJI drones (such as Phantom 3 , Phantom 4 and Inspire 1 ) will allow you to capture photogrammetric images. Here ‘s more information about DJI .
Best practices for photogrammetry
If the photos are not good, no matter how great the software is, it is difficult to get real quality in the 3D model. Photos should be as clear as possible. If you take a drone with a zoom camera and zoom in on aerial photos, these small features will blur. If so, try to find out what caused the blur and then the 3D image will be greatly improved. Eliminate everything that hinders maximum clarity. This is where more megapixels are actually important. Shooting with RAW is definitely helpful. Lighting is always important in photography. Bright, uniform lighting will give you a smaller aperture to reduce the depth of field of the image. Shallow depth of field is actually a bad thing for photogrammetry, because blurry details can confuse software. The goal is to get a high-detail, clear and flat image, which requires closing the aperture to provide more light. Good lighting also allows you to lower the ISO , which reduces graininess, and can speed up the shutter speed, which reduces motion blur. Provides high resolution information to 3D photogrammetry software only . If you are painting a sculpture or building and you don’t need a background, mask it. If an image is closed or misaligned with previous and subsequent images, delete the image. Humans are still smarter than software, stitching images together. Before the software starts running, filtering out bad or offline photos will make the job of 3D photogrammetry software easier, thereby providing higher image accuracy.
If it is not in the picture, it is not in your grid and 3D image. Make sure you have the coverage you need to get all the details you need, because it’s difficult to go back and shoot again under exactly the same conditions.
If you are new to photography, this is a great article on aerial photography skills.
photogrammetry and 3D mapping of UAV
Most of the drones highlighted below are described in the drone reviews on this site. Also check out 7 very affordable drones with autopilots and GPS , essential technologies for photogrammetry and lidar mapping.
. 1 , DJI photogrammetry UAV
DJI Mavic 2 and Mavic Pro
The Mavic 2 and the older Mavic Pro are ideal for photogrammetric and lidar mapping applications. These quadcopters use the latest IMU and flight control stabilization technology to fly smoothly. They also have 4k stable integrated gimbals and cameras.
DJI Mavic will create very accurate point clouds and stitched together perfect 3D maps. Mavic is all compatible drones that work with top 3D mapping software from companies like DroneDeploy or Pix4D .
Waypoint navigation is important for creating accurate 3D photogrammetric images. Mavic drones use waypoints for automatically programmed flights.
However, all top photogrammetry software will include waypoint navigation.
The transmission distance is 7 miles ( 4.3 miles), the flight time is up to 27 minutes, and it can cover a lot of ground.
Note: You can read more about this quadcopter in DJI Mavic Pro ‘s highlights and FAQ article.
Drone mapping with DJI Matrice 600
Matrice 600 ( M600 ) is DJI ‘s new multi-rotor flight platform designed for professional aerial photography and industrial applications. It is built with tight integration with many powerful DJI technologies, including A3 flight controller, Lightbridge 2 transmission system, smart battery and battery management system for best performance and fast setup.
The M600 ‘s modular design makes it quick and easy to set up. All Zenmuse cameras and gimbals are compatible with the Matrice 600 with a maximum payload of 6 kg. They can suspend Ronin-MX gimbals and a range of cameras from the miniature three-quarter system to the RED Epic . High-quality cameras and ultra-stable multi-rotor will provide you with the perfect 3D map.
The M600 has extended flight time and long-range ultra-low-latency HD image transmission at 5 km , enabling accurate image synthesis and capture.
The use of multi-rotor . 6 Ke DJI small smart battery, and a battery management system and a customized distribution board, just click a button to open all . 6 batteries, and keep the system running in case of failure of a single cell, and Allows users to check battery status in real time during flight.
The Matrice 600 has an enhanced GPS for high-precision photogrammetry. Enhanced GPS also allows you to track the location of Matrice 100 in real time , while enabling faster satellite acquisitions, more accurate position maintenance and flight planning.
You can read more about DJI Matrice here .
DJI Phantom 4 Pro Photogrammetry
The released DJI Phantom 4 Pro can use the Pix4Dmapper Mesh DJI version. Phantom 4 can also be used with Drone Deploy and Site Scan software, which are further mentioned later in this article . The Phantom 4 is flying very smoothly, using a dual navigation system, using obstacle detection and anti-collision sensors. It has a 4k camera. Very importantly, it also uses waypoint navigation.
It is one of the most popular quadcopters for 3D imaging. You can read more about Phantom 4 Pro here .
The first video shows you how to create a 3D model using DJI Phantom 4 and photogrammetric mapping Agisoft PhotoScan software .
DJI Phantom 3 and Inspire 1 Photogrammetry
2015 Nian 9 months, firmware and software updates for the DJI Inspire 1 and Phantom 3 models offer waypoint navigation is now available for Photogrammetry. The next video demonstrates how to use Drone Deploy Mapping software to create 3D maps with DJI Inspire 1 , Phantom 3, and Phantom 4 drones .
Probably the best software to use with DJI drones is DroneDeploy as well as the Pix4DModel and Pix4DMapper solutions. In addition, the Altizure application is also ideal for photogrammetry. For more information on 3D mapping and modeling of Pix4DMapper and Altizure , see below.
DJI Photogrammetry Ground Station
2015 Nian 12 Yue, Google stop supporting Google Earth and DJI based on the Google Earth API of PC Ground Station software. This means that DJI has stopped supporting its own PC ground station. However, there are many third-party software ground station solutions, including some that are built into actual 3D mapping software.
2 , DroneDeploy is one of the top production photogrammetry software company. Their solution is compatible with all DJI drones, including the latest Mavic 2 folding drone.
3 , DroneDeploy have a mobile application for the automatic flight program and capture the photo, you can then upload it to the cloud DroneDeploy platform. This DroneDeploy platform will then create 3D maps and models.
4 , DroneDeploy latest 3D solution called real-time map, when you fly in real time to create 3D maps. You can view it during automatic flight.
5 , other UAVS photogrammetric
( 1 ) SenseFly eBee X mapping drone
Sensefly eBee X is a fixed-wing drone designed for all your mapping needs. It aims to improve the quality, efficiency and security of data collection. It has a camera that meets every project’s requirements with excellent precision and coverage, making it suitable for every job, and can work on almost any type of site. The eBee X has a maximum flight time of 90 minutes, a maximum coverage of 500 hectares ( 1,235 acres) at 400 feet , and its high accuracy can help you achieve absolute accuracy as low as 3 cm ( 1.2 inches) without GCP ( Ground control point). eBee X is suitable for any job with its groundbreaking camera series. These include:
SenseFly SODA 3D for amazing 3D reconstruction of vertical environments . SenseFly aerial X RGB photogrammetry camera. SenseFly Duet T is used to create geographically accurate heat maps. Parrot Sequoia + can capture images of 4 defined visible and invisible spectral bands as well as RGB images. SenseFly Corridor simplifies drone mapping of linear infrastructure and sites.
SenseFly eMotion Ground Station Software
The drone’s flight management (or ground station) software is advanced, scalable, and very easy to use, and anyone can use it.
eMotion helps you quickly achieve drones in the air, while including all the features needed to collect and precisely manage the geospatial data you need. It supports both fixed-wing and multi-rotor drones.
Output compatibility includes:
Raster is being mosaicked. Index map. 3D point cloud. Digital Surface Model ( DSM ). 3D mesh with texture . contour line.
Google Maps / Mapbox tiles .
The image is not distorted.
Compatible output can be put into top software products, such as ESRI ArcGIS , GlobalMapper , Autodesk , Google Earth , DraftSight , QGIS , GeoMedia , AgPixel , SMS Ag , Trimble RealWorks , Bentley MicroStation , 3DReshaper, etc.
( 2 ) WingtraOne 3D mapping drone
The WingtraOne is specifically designed for surveying and 3D map construction with VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing drone).
The ability to take off and land vertically allows WingtraOne to rise and move like a helicopter. For cartographic missions, it takes off directly in the air, then transitions to forward cruise flight, and matches the endurance and speed of fixed-wing aircraft. To land, WingtraOne switched back to hover flight and descended vertically.
A camera for Wingtra photogrammetry
WingtraOne has a 42 -megapixel photographic camera and ultra-low distortion lens for increased accuracy and investigation tasks.
WingtraOne covered 100 hectares with a resolution of 0.7 cm per pixel in one flight , or 400 hectares with a resolution of 3 cm per pixel . Compared to other mapping drones, this makes the WingtraOne mission exceptional. WingtraOne is;
With 20 MP flight camera, the accuracy of the flight of 2 times.
Covers 10 times the area of multiple helicopters .
5 times faster than ground measurements .
Wingtra pilot software
WingtraPilot is an intuitive user interface for managing the WingtraOne data acquisition process. It includes methods for planning missions, monitoring and modifying missions during flight, and checking field data output.
All aerial images and geographic location information are stored on a single SD card and can be checked on-site on a WingtraPilot tablet for early quality checks. WingtraPilot can geo-reference images of multiple flights at the end of the day to minimize on-site free time.
WingtraOne compatible photogrammetry software
Results are compatible with all major stitching and analysis tools, such as Pix4D (recommended), DroneDeploy , PhotoScan, and Precision Mapper .
This is a great place for WingtraOne mapping and photogrammetric drones.
( 3 ) Aeryon Scout Map Edition Quadcopter
Aeryon sUAS is designed for any application that requires orthomosaic , DSM, and point clouds that require measurement-level accuracy from aerial or oblique images, as well as seamless integration with GIS , CAD, and traditional photogrammetry software.
Aeryon Map Edition includes Aeryon SkyRanger sUAS (Integrated Imaging Payload for Image Capture) and Pix4Dmapper software for on-site and office image processing, including integrated tools for 3D output visualization and editing.
Photogrammetry software for drone mapping and modeling
Below, we only highlight some photogrammetric software packages on the market. We have published another article covering the best photogrammetric software for creating 3D maps on the market .
1 , Pix4Dmodel software
Pix4Dmodel mesh software automatically and very easily creates 3D models from images . All you need is a camera and Pix4Dmodel software. The Pix4Dmodel Mesh can be used with any drone. Here are some of the most popular drones on the market, you can use our Pix4Dmodel software.
DJI Mavic 2 (latest DJI drone).
DJI Phantom 4 (all models).
Dajiang Mavic Air .
DJI Phantom 3 Advanced and Professional .
Dajiang Mavic Pro .
DJI Inspire 1 ( X3 , X5 camera).
DJI Inspire 2 .
3DR SOLO .
Parrot Bebop 2 .
Pix4DMapper photogrammetry software
Pix4Dmapper photogrammetry software allows you to generate professional 3D models and maps from images . This Pix4Dmapper software converts your images into high-precision, geo-referenced 2D maps and 3D models. 3D maps are customizable and can complement a variety of applications and software.
Pix4DMapper ‘s main outputs and features
These are just some of the features of the Pix4D photogrammetry drawing software;
Dense 3D point cloud – This is a set of 3D points for reconstructing the model . X , Y , Z position and color information will be stored on each point of the dense point cloud.
Digital ground and terrain models – Get elevation values for each pixel, whether with or without ground objects, for use in your preferred GIS workflow.
Orthomosaic -A high-resolution, high-resolution map where each pixel of the original image is projected onto a digital surface mode.
Volume calculations – Fully adjustable base height that perfectly represents your inventory for accurate volume calculations.
Contours – A simplified representation of the terrain, with closed contours showing elevations.
3D Texture Model – Triangular mesh with photo-realistic texture.
Reflectivity Map – Evaluates reflectivity based on pixel values in multispectral or thermal imaging.
Figure index ( NDVI , NDRE ) – used in conjunction with well-known index, such as the agricultural use of drones NDVI and NDRE or create a custom index.
Application Mapping – Aggregates and visualizes values derived from the index map.
Thermography – radiation having a precise map of temperature values for each pixel.
2 , the Trimble INPHO UASMaster
The Tempo INPHO UASMaster is a complete photogrammetric work station for drones and ground close-up images. Trimble has more than 30 years of experience in digital aerial photogrammetry .
Its new UASMaster combines modern computer vision algorithms and mature photogrammetry techniques to automatically produce accurate results without manual intervention.
Some highlights of Trimble Inpho UASMaster are as follows:
Can open any fixed-wing, multi-rotor or handheld frame camera.
Special support for high-quality GNSS / IMU data allows stable processing in challenging conditions or eliminates the need for ground control.
Simplified workflow, automatically extract features through eCognition and integrate them perfectly into Trimble Business Center for classic survey applications
Intuitive guided workflow concepts for beginners of photogrammetry.
Fully compatible with Trimble ‘s Inpho photogrammetry module.
3 , Altizure free photogrammetry software
The Altizure application allows fully automated 3D mapping of regions. You outline an area on the map and the app will calculate the best route to take an image of that area.
These images can then be uploaded to the Altizure website and analyzed by its software to create a 3D rendering of your location (you can also animate the animations you create).
Compatible drones are DJI Mavic , Phantom 3 , 4 , Inspire 1 and Inspire 2 . Altizure has a free version and a paid service.
This is an example using the quality of the drone and Altizure application output.
4 , unmanned aerial vehicles deployed application
The DroneDeploy software application automates drone flight, making it very easy to capture aerial images. The DroneDeploy platform uses computer vision to process your drone images and convert them into 2D , 3D maps and models.
All you need is a drone and a mobile device with the DroneDeploy mobile app installed .
The images captured by the drone are geotagged, which helps create maps. As the drone flies, a 2D map will appear in your DroneDeploy app. Once done, you can upload your photos to the DroneDeploy website. After a few hours, the photos will be divided into 3D maps or models.
Drone deployment of mobile application capabilities;
Easily make flight plans on any device.
Take-off, flight, image capture and landing are performed automatically.
Real-time streaming first person perspective ( FPV ).
With one click, you can disable automatic flight and restore control.
Easily continue uninterrupted flight to map a large area.
Explore Orthomosaic , NDVI , digital elevation interactive maps and 3D models.
Measure area and volume immediately.
Work with teams with shared maps and reviews.
In-app support can get help when you need it.
5 , Precision Mapper and Viewer photogrammetry software
PrecisionMapper works online to automatically process aviation data into 2D or 3D products. It has a growing library of on-demand analysis tools and makes sharing or collaboration easy.
This is how PrecisionMapper photogrammetry software works.
Collect drone data with drones.
Upload data to your account and process 2D or 3D products.
Manage, collaborate and share data with anyone.
Analyze the data with the on-demand analysis tool library.
Precision mapper key output
Crop health analysis tools.
PrecisionViewer is a desktop software that allows users to easily view flight path ranges, add ground control points, and attach flight logs and flight ranges to surveys.