Drone mapping software allows drones to successfully execute missions during which aerial imagery and/or LiDAR data are captured for the purpose of creating 2D and 3D maps and models. Using drones for this purpose provides significant cost and time savings compared to using a manned aircraft or ground surveying techniques.
The software may be installed on a dedicated drone Ground Control Station (GCS), or on a standard device such as a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Basic drone mapping software will allow users to program autonomous drones with waypoints or routes to follow during the mission, and some interfaces may provide the ability to define an area to be mapped by drawing a boundary on a touchscreen. Different types of mission will require different survey patterns – for instance the mapping of linear assets such as power lines and railways may only require corridor patterns.
Drone mapping software may provide facilities that allow it to fit into the workflow of photogrammetry and post-processing software, exporting the captured images so that deliverables such as digital surface models (DSMs), digital terrain models (DTMs), point clouds and orthomosaics can be created.
Drone mapping software is used for various unmanned applications including aerial mapping and survey, oil and gas pipeline inspection and agricultural monitoring. Aerial imagery can also be used to perform volumetric calculations, in order to gauge levels of available raw materials for construction projects or calculate the amount of earth needed to fill in a hole.
All-in-one drone mapping software solutions are available that combine both flight planning and post-processing capabilities, with options for processing aerial imagery either on local hardware, on a network or using a cloud-based service.