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Why Use Drones for Mapping?

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3 March 2022

Why Use Drones for Mapping?

With highly advanced capabilities, drones can be used to conduct mapping missions. Drones gather centimetre-accurate data to create high-resolution 2D maps and 3D models in a fraction of the time taken by traditional methods.


Mapping With Drones

Drone mapping involves capturing a collection of high-resolution aerial images from various angles using a drone and specialist cameras.

By gathering several overlapping images from different perspectives, drone software can use these images to generate 2D maps and 3D models. These can be analysed to gain insight into volumetric measurements and distances. Drones produce highly accurate data quickly and in a cost-effective way.

The benefits offered by using drones to conduct mapping include:

  • Greater efficiency: Drones have enabled mapping to become a highly efficient operation. Not only do drones require less manpower, but it has also been estimated that drone mapping can collect data up to five times faster than using traditional methods.
  • Higher accuracy: Where drones are most effective is in terms of the level of accuracy they can achieve when collecting data. Some drones can produce centimetre-accurate data. This allows for better informed decisions to be made and helps streamline communications.
  • Improved safety: The reduced risk offered by drones has made drone technology particularly attractive for a wide range of companies. Drones can access largely inaccessible areas without exposing humans to danger. Reduced manpower can in turn lower costs.

Types of Maps

There are various types of maps that can be created using drones. These include (though are not limited to):


Orthomosaic Maps

The data gathered by drones can be used to generate orthomosaic maps. These are top-down maps generated by combining an array of aerial images captured by a drone, provide an overview of a site.

Valuable information can be extracted including measurements of distances and project progress can be monitored.


3D Point Clouds

This is a 3D model combining thousands of geometric coordinates of an object or a site. The more coordinates gathered, the more detailed the digital representation is.

These can provide insight into an object’s elevation, depth and location.


Digital Surface Models (DSM) & Digital Terrain Models (DTM)

A Digital Surface Model (DSM) is a digital representation of an area’s ground surface and includes all elements above ground level such as buildings.

Alternatively, a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) is solely representative of the earth’s surface and does not include any objects above the ground.

Both use RGB to exhibit elevation differences.


Thermal Maps

Thermal maps measure surface temperatures so can be used to identify electrical issues or detect leaks. These are most commonly adopted by the utilities and oil and gas industries.

Best Drones for Mapping

Here are our top recommendations of drones for mapping.

DJI Phantom 4 RTK

The DJI Phantom 4 RTK takes mapping missions to the next level. With an integrated RTK module, achieve centimetre accurate data with this low altitude mapping solution. With a 1cm+1ppm RTK Horizontal Positioning Accuracy and a 1.5cm+1ppm RTK Vertical Positioning Accuracy, this drone sets a new standard for drone accuracy.

With a transmission range of up to 7km and a remote controller with an ultra-bright 5.5” HD display screen, operators have complete control over mapping and other data acquisition scenarios. Not to mention its ability to capture 20-megapixel images, the capabilities of this drone are extensive.

Offering a range of control schemes and complimentary technologies, the DJI Phantom 4 RTK is developed to provide survey-grade results with greater efficiency than ever before.


DJI Matrice 300 (M300) RTK

The M300 RTK combines with intelligence with high-performance and unrivalled reliability. Its AI capabilities and 6 directional sensing and positioning makes this drone great for conducting a wide range of applications including mapping.

With up to 55 minutes of flight time and the ability to carry up to 3 payloads at once with a maximum combined weight of 2.7kg, this drone’s capabilities are extensive. Pair this drone with a H20T camera or the L1 LiDAR sensor to conduct highly efficient mapping missions.


DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced

The Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced (M2EA) is one of DJI’s most efficient drones. With a 32x digital zoom and a 640 x 512 px thermal camera, this drone can capture accurate details in any mapping mission ensuring no detail is missed. It’s 48MP visual camera combined with its 10km HD transmission ensures clear images are captured from a safe distance and allows the operator to access hard to reach areas without putting individuals at risk.

Furthermore, attaching a DJI RTK Module to this UAV can result in centimetre accurate data being achieved.



Drones allow for highly detailed 2D maps and 3D models to be created more accurately than by using traditional methods. These maps provide valuable insights into measurements, distances and more. Drones not only result in greater efficiency but also prove cost effective.

DARe-3D offer land mapping, 2D mapping and 3D mapping. We can map and measure hard to reach areas like quarries, landfill sites and open cast mines. Get in touch today to find out more.

Alternatively, if you are a qualified drone pilot already, why not try DARe-3D’s drone hire? We offer over 35 drone packages available for rental with drones and equipment from manufacturers including DJI, Autel Robotics and Yuneec.

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