Professional Drone Surveyors

Drone Surveys: What Are They and How Do They Work?

January 9, 2020

Drone surveys are a faster, safer and more cost-efficient way to survey at height. Drone surveys are an increasingly popular method of surveying from the air, and are fast becoming the sensible choice for engineers and construction companies as they offer great advantages in terms of safety and speed of access.

If you need to effectively collect data from an out of reach place or an inaccessible area, like railways, motorways, dilapidated structures or small islands, then a drone survey is the perfect solution for your surveying needs.

How does a drone survey work?

A drone survey can only be carried out by a highly skilled and fully insured CAA approved pilot.

The drone will be controlled the entire time, from the air to the ground, to ensure crystal-clear photography or videography is recorded at all times. The footage and imagery being surveyed is immediately transmitted to the operative’s smartphone or tablet for inspection, so all data can be viewed and reported on in real-time. It also enables clients to receive comprehensive results on a real-time basis.

What kind of information can a drone survey provide?

Completing work that originally would have been completely impossible in the past, drone survey services are able to conclude first-class results and a comprehensive inspection of any given site. The latest drone technology can provide clients with the following information, including:

  • Construction progress monitoring
  • Condition surveys
  • Monitoring for marine, coastal or flooding
  • Documentation of Heritage buildings and structures
  • Field inspection and crop monitoring
  • Marketing
  • GPS position

With the ability to reach the most inaccessible, hazardous or large-scale sites, the team at South West Surveys will use the latest drone technology to provide you with a wide range of drone surveys and inspections – all in a fraction of the time taken by traditional surveying methods.

How are drones used in construction?

Drones can be extremely useful within the construction industry and can be used for a number of different purposes.

Before construction even begins, they can be used to assess hard to reach areas such as railways, motorways, dilapidated structures or even small islands to provide a clear high definition picture and scan of the area which can be used in any planning or advise how to progress with proposed plans.

During construction, drones are perfect for progress monitoring and providing a visual overview of the development of the project to allow construction companies to keep clients updated and report accurate project updates and ensure everything is on track to meet major milestones. A 3D model of the site created by the drone can be compared to the BIM to ensure everything is going to plan and how current works are comparing to the final plan.

These images can not only be used to keep stakeholders in the loop but also for marketing purposes to keep locals or investors up to date and promote the development of the project and meeting its proposed plans.

How accurate is a drone survey?

Our drones use 20mp or 100mp cameras that provide high quality JPG images and can also be supplied as a 3D point cloud thanks to GPS. With drone surveys, there is relative and absolute way of using the information gained.

Relative accuracy involves taking a measurement of how objects are positioned relative to each other in a reconstructed model. In most cases for small and simple projects, relative accuracy is suitable and allows for measuring distances, volumes and height difference as well as producing a vegetation index.

Absolute accuracy on the other hand, looks at the difference between the location of the objects on the model and their true position on earth. This type of accuracy is more suitable when you need to compare your drone imaging with other layers and a more intricate project.

We are happy to advise on if a drone survey is suitable for your project and will be able to produce an accurate 3D point cloud and model to your needs and specifications.


What drones are used for drone surveys?

This will differ from company to company, but at South West Surveys, we use high quality 20mp or 100mp cameras to provide a set of JPG images. The high quality imagery can also be supplied as rich 3D point cloud; this is useful for showing sites in their entirety, or to complete point cloud datasets where a terrestrial laser scan cannot reach.

We also use thermal imaging cameras, which can report on the performance of solar panels and report any heat loss incurred by roofs on residential properties or commercial buildings.

  • They are safe – when you commission a drone survey, you are eliminating all risk of falls and injury – going beyond your obligations under the UK Working at Height legislation.
  • They are cheaper – with a drone survey, you don’t need to worry about the cost of scaffolding, expensive rigging or heavy lifting equipment. This can provide businesses with significant budget savings.
  • They are quicker – inspections in high risk areas, such as power lines, roofs and turbines can be time consuming as they need to be completed carefully to avoid the risk of injury. With a drone survey, you eliminate the need to wait and can receive real-time imagery for faster decision making on the ground.

The cost of a drone survey can vary, depending on the size of the land you would like surveyed and what the survey will include. To find out the prices of our drone surveying services, please contact us today.

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