The rise of drone technology has transformed our everyday lives. While the common customer might purchase a drone for a fun toy for their kids or as a way to capture truly amazing video footage, they have many practical uses that can be taken advantage of in a wide range of professions.
One such drone application is in the field of surveying. Drones have truly aided and assisted surveyors all over the world to help them accomplish everything from marking property lines to mapping unknown regions of the world. In this article, we will take a look at a few of the best drones for surveying to help anyone involved in this storied profession.
- For a top-of-the-line-option that’s intended for industrial use and capable of capturing excellent mapping and other surveying needs, check out the DJI Matrice 600 Pro.
- The DJI Phantom 4 Pro is another drone that can be used for great results in surveying. This option comes with a very high-quality camera that is of the utmost importance for 3D mapping and other surveying situations.
- For a more affordable option that’s still fully capable of plenty of surveying tasks, the Potensic T25 GPS Drone is a solid choice. With very stable flight and a highly moveable camera, this drone offers quite a bit for anyone on a budget.
Who Should Get This?
If you own or operate a surveying business, a drone can add a lot of value to your operations. They streamline tasks like making topographic maps, 3D mapping, and accessing areas that are difficult or outright impossible for a human to reach. It’s a bit of an initial upfront investment, especially if you get a high-end model, but with the results you see and the labor hours saved, a drone is almost essential for your surveying operation.
Even if you are a surveyor by trade, there are other reasons to get a surveying drone. If you own a large property and want to map out your land, they can come in handy. If you’re a treasure hunter or archaeologist, having eyes in the sky can help you on your search for ancient artifacts. If you don’t have a need for mapping or similar surveying tasks, you should look for a cheaper and more standard drone.
Best Drone for Surveying in 2020: What to Consider
Most drones you see available to the public use a multi-rotor design. This is the recommended style for surveying because it gives you the ability to perform quick maneuvers and easily hover in place. It also allows for stable camera work, which is important when you’re trying to get accurate readings for surveying. There are situations where you might want a different design, but it would be rare.
Camera quality is another big concern with your drone. The better the camera, the more accurate you will be with your surveying tasks. All of the options on this list come equipped with high-quality cameras that are capable of HD video footage. A lesser quality camera can lead to inaccurate results that are quite undesirable. Make sure the drone you purchase for surveying comes with a high-end camera that’s adjustable and has a wide viewing angle.
Modern surveying has become exact largely due to the widespread use of GPS. It is therefore critical that any drone you use for surveying be fully GPS equipped so you can accurately pilot the craft. In addition, trust that the readings and mapping it sends back are correct. Nearly every drone available comes with GPS, it’s basically an industry standard. Even so, double-check that upon purchase.
Another aspect to consider is cost. High-end professional style drones designed for everyday use can be quite expensive, but the value and service they provide can easily make this cost well worth it. There are budget options available, and you’ll see one on this list, but know that the best drones for surveying purposes will run well into the thousands.
Best Drone for Surveying: Our Picks in 2020
For a top of the line surveying drone, look no further than the DJI Matrice 600 Pro. This is an extremely capable and well-designed model built by DJI, one of the best brands in the business. The slick model utilizes a 6-rotor design to achieve amazing control and stability, even in challenging conditions. If you survey in harsh weather or encounter different terrains often, this is a solid choice.
This drone also comes equipped with almost all of the latest technologies from DJI, making it more than capable of handling any and all surveying tasks you need to get done. It features a Lightbridge 2 HD transmission system, intelligent batteries, and battery management system. The A3 Flight Pro controller is included as well.
- Highly engineered and well-built drone capable of reliable performance
- 6-rotor design
- Modular design to add additional needed accessories
- Compatible with many different cameras and gimbals
- Landing gear and skid plates built-in
- Intelligent battery system
- Camera not included
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro is another top choice. This is one of the best small models that DJI offers, and it can be used for a variety of purposes like surveying. It comes with a quad-rotor design for fluid movement and serious stability, and it is quite easy to use. It’s more affordable than the 600 Pro, but still offers many key features that surveyors can utilize.
- Easy to set up and fly
- Stable quad-rotor design
- 3D FPV real-time transmission
- Equipped with a high-precision barometer
- Consumer-grade GPS
The Potensic T25 GPS Drone is an affordable option that will still perform well for a variety of surveying situations. This one comes with a high-quality 1080 HD camera that has a 120-degree field of view and a 75-degree adjustable wide-angle. It also has Dual GPS and Follow Me modes to allow for hands-free operation if there are other tasks you need to handle while you survey from the sky.
- Equipped with quality camera
- Dual GPS and Follow Me modes
- Compatible with VR goggles
- Comes with extra propeller blades, landing gear, and protection guards
- Short battery life
- Under 1000 foot range
Useful Tips & Resources
While operating a drone is fairly straightforward, getting everything in line to properly survey takes more attention to detail. If you have yet to use a drone for surveying, you want to learn about some best practices to use to be effective and accurate. This video has tips on ground control points and this one runs through a mapping tutorial that can help you out. It’s always a good idea to do some homework before you take your drone out into the field.
A drone can be used as a powerful and effective tool for any surveying operation. They have a number of applications and uses that will directly benefit anyone involved within the surveying industry and can provide immense value to aid in projects from mapping to property lines and much, much more. If you want one of the best drones for surveying, the options you’ll find here are ahead of the competition.
Have you ever used a drone for surveying purposes? What was the application? Let us know in the comments below!
Andreas is a freelance tech writer based in California. He works on a Mac in the office and lives with a PC and many old computer electronics at home. While he is not reading or writing, you’ll probably find him playing online games with friends.