Here’s How Drones Can Change Mapping as We Know It

Drones make mapping easier and cheaper

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If you read our blog regularly, you know that we post quite a bit about drones and their uses across many different industries. According to a recent article by Julie Kliegman in The Week, one of the industries that may benefit the most from this technology is mapping.

Up to this point, mapping has been performed by people with very specific skill sets, says Kliegman, and required a helicopter, plane or satellite which means it was both costly and time consuming. But now, anyone can run out and buy a drone, download a mapping app or other software, and upload the results to a cloud-based system for free in just a few short hours.

So how does it work? Kliegman explains that once the software is downloaded, a drone owner then draws the desired parameters of the flyover. From there, the drone methodically flies back and forth across the area, taking images at specific intervals. This process is called photogrammetry. Once the drone is finished, a map can be obtained by popping the drone’s SD card into a computer, uploading the footage to a cloud-based system, and waiting for the program to produce the map. Instead of spending months to map an area, drones enable users to create 3D maps within days or even hours.

So who benefits? Having a map facilitates cemetery plotting, mining, and documenting archeological sites, says Kliegman, and can also monitor construction progress. Additionally, mapping can bolster environmental and humanitarian causes. It can be used to track the paths of endangered animals without humans and cars disrupting their habits and surveil poachers. Drones can also be used to drop off supplies during disaster relief missions and help farmers get the information they need to maximize harvests and monitor planting conditions.

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