Drone mapping market is developing so fast that it’s hard to follow all the industry news. UAVs are getting smarter, faster and overall more complex but there are couple of trends that are about to move the drone photogrammetry revolution to the next level.

Size vs. battery life

The launch of DJI Mavic Pro howed that hardware providers are working on making smaller and lighter devices. Besides the portability, the reason for that is the battery life. The more you save on size and weight, the longer your drone can last on a single charge and today the flight time is the biggest limitation of the technology.

There is a linear relation between the size of the area you can map during a single flight and the battery life. Normally, fixed wing drones can survey up to several square miles and rotary drones below 0.1 mi2 during a single flight. Extending the battery life could enable plenty of new applications or significantly improve currently offered drone mapping services.

Advanced sensors

Most of the drone mapping use cases (you can read ours at: https://pixprocessing.com/use-cases) today are based on a regular RGB visual sensors. The price decrease of advanced sensor technologies now allows using them with UAV platforms. Some companies already offer a whole range of mapping sensors including multispectral, hyperspectral and thermal cameras as well as LiDAR.

 

Automated drone flights

Today, UAVs are typically controlled by human operators, that have to plan the flight, go to the field, launch a drone, complete the survey in single or multiple rounds. The scope of the project is limited by a range of the drone and the required resolution. So, if you have a large object to survey, you need many drones with multiple operators or one operator that gradually collects data for the whole project area. It complicates the operations in the field, increases the cost and compromises the available temporal resolution.

The developments in drone control technologies will soon solve the problem. Imagine that an operator controls not a single UAV but a whole fleet of dozens of autonomous flying robots. The central system divides the survey area between them. Real-time flight path tracking and dynamic flight recomputation allow the fleet to autonomously correct their route depending on the location of other devices. Such solutions are currently used by “Intel” in the entertainment industry but applying it to drone mapping will be a real disruption: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOd4-T_p5fA.

Surveying and photogrammetry

A growing number of surveying companies are working with UAVs. These are equipped with digital cameras to provide high- resolution aerial imagery, which is hen further processed to produce highly precise orthophotos, point clouds and 3D models. Drones build on photogrammetry’s key strengths: affordability, availability and versatility.

Based on photogrammetry and computer vision, Pixpro created its software solution. With Pixprocessing software everyone can process both handheld and aerial photos for high- accuracy reconstruction, sleek visualization and detailed analysis of the object in a 3D mode.

3D object reconstruction

With photographs and photogrammetric software one can create realistic 3D models. If we have at least 3 photos taken from a different angle (collected manually or with drones), we can already reconstruct the 3D model of the object. However, the more pictures, the more likely the 3D model will be realistic. Using photogrammetry software that reconstructs 3D objects from aerial images, one can get not only an overview of the actual situation, but also to perform various simulations, plan work, increase safety, and anticipate the use of vehicles.

3D reconstruction is made using native Pixpro photogrammetric engine. User can generate sparse point cloud, clone it and use it for DEM creation or generate more accurate dense point cloud. 3D object reconstruction with a drone does not face any limits. Therefore, data processing is simple, accurate and can be run as often as required.

When the solutions of combining several drones for collecting data in large areas already being developed, there is a need to adapt photogrammetric software too. Pixprocessing has the ability to provide information about how much computer resources will be required and inform about  deficiency, protecting user from unnecessary waste of time while working with the object.

In order to facilitate data processing, there is a number of optimization functionalities, that simplifies the whole process:Unlimited digital elevation map size with flexible digital elevation map;

  • Unlimited size orthophoto;
  • Fast and more advanced project loading;
  • Possibility to select Intrinsic Optimization mode before reconstruction;
  • Auto calibration mode;
  • Possibility to select predefined intrinsic set form internal database.
Summary

All of these developments are indicative the revolution of drone mapping industry. The desire to figure out what it means to effectively integrate drones into a surveying business or workflow showcase why the opportunities that exist for drones in this space are especially lucrative and efficient.

More info about the photogrammetry based software solutions: https://pixprocessing.com/pixprocessing/