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Quick Guide to Land Mapping Drones for Surveyors

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Land-mapping drones are an exciting advancement for surveying companies.

Surveying technology has greatly advanced in the last 20 years, and one of the most convenient recent inventions is land-mapping drones. These tiny marvels can do the work of one surveyor in a fraction of the time without any of the risk.

Surveying can be strenuous work. It’s not just peering through a theodolite. It’s traversing sometimes dangerous terrain in all kinds of weather while carrying and setting up heavy equipment. A drone can sometimes accomplish in minutes what it might take a surveyor days to do.

Not only that, but land-mapping drones are often able to do this with no loss of accuracy. In fact, they are sometimes more accurate than the information surveyors can collect on the ground.

This is handy from any perspective, but especially so for sites undergoing excavation or construction. Re-taking all the measurements to account for changes over a period of time can be tedious work. But with the use of a land-mapping drone, all the information can be re-collected and uploaded by the drone, with the changes easy to see.

Land-Mapping Drones: Cost/Benefit Analysis

Land-mapping drones save a lot of time, and time is money. Although a land-mapping drone can save your company a great deal of money, it’s a serious investment. Unsophisticated land-mapping drones start out at a few hundred dollars, but the best ones can be as much as $50,000. Some companies choose to lease, but this is not always an option.

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Proper training in how to operate a land-mapping drone is essential.

Once you have a piece of equipment this expensive — or several — you’ll need to budget for insurance for them, as well as repairs they may eventually need and the cost to train your staff on how to use them correctly. One wrong move and your investment could literally crash and burn.

And it’s not just operation of the craft that your team will have to learn; it’s also the mapping software you choose to use with your drone. For a better idea of what’s involved, take a look at this Beginner’s Guide to Drone Mapping Software.

Land-Mapping Drones Aren’t Right for Every Project

The conditions have to be right for these drones to work effectively. Surveying is often needed for industries in rural areas, including ranching, logging, and mining. Heavily forested areas, in particular, are difficult for drones, which is unfortunate, because they are also tricky for surveyors. Fighting your way through a densely overgrown area can be tedious, time-consuming, dangerous, and expensive.

Forest COMPASS, a global organization that monitors forests, promotes the use of drones to map land and to detect poaching and other illegal land uses. They warn, however, that the smaller a drone is, the less land it can map at one time. And any pitching or dipping of the craft affects data accuracy. Further, when mapping forested areas, it’s best to wait until the trees don’t have leaves, which is not always an option in warmer climates.

Land-mapping drones can be a great help to many surveying businesses, depending on what types of jobs your company usually does and your interest in and commitment to this new technology.

PDH Academy Online Courses

If you are a land surveyor who needs continuing education hours to get recertified in your state, rely on PDH online courses. We offer a broad array of topics, and you can do 100 percent of the work online, making fulfilling your requirements easy and convenient. Check out PDH online courses today.

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