Not since the laser scanner has a new piece of technology been expected to have such a big impact on the land surveying industry. That new technology? Drones.
According to an article at Point of Beginning, the “advent of practical, lightweight lithium polymer batteries, low-cost drone technology, lightweight digital cameras and advances in close-range oblique aerial photography” means the technology will be widely used in the industry in the near future.
The “perfect platform for aerial photography and remote sensing,” drones can be programmed to travel specific routes, speeds, altitudes, and hover set times over a designated points and new technology even enables the drone to land automatically. Additionally, the camera angle of a drone can be changed by pilots in real time and the drone can also snap still photographs at specific time intervals.
Perhaps most important to land surveyors is a drone’s photographic field of view. Small drones have a smaller field of view so a higher density of ground control is required. Therefore, smaller drones are better for smaller jobs, offering “the convenience of a quick turnaround and lower cost.” In addition to the benefit of a lower cost, new software can enable users to process drone photographs with 3D accuracy that is equal or better than conventional aerial photography.
At this point in time, the only thing holding land surveyors back are FAA regulations and regulatory restrictions for safety, which is considered the biggest threat to the development of drone technology. Once these issues are worked out, however, “surveyors and engineers will have the ability to deploy low-cost drones that will fly over site and collect photography or other remote-sensing data that will improve our ability to measure the surface of the Earth.” Who knew land surveying could be so cool?
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