UAV Surveying, Drone Mapping & Photography Services

About UAV / Drone Mapping Services

UAV surveying and drone mapping are economical alternatives to traditional aerial surveying. Before the advent of UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) and aerial drones, aerial surveying was performed using conventional aircraft fitted with lidar scanners (laser surveying) or aerial cameras. The process was well suited to mapping vast tracts of land, though costly overkill for smaller surveys.

For surveying smaller areas of land of up to several square kilometres, construction and development sites, UAV surveying is cost-effective, efficient, and yields similar results.

Photodocufy provides UAV surveying and mapping services for topographic and construction surveys.

UAV Surveying / Drone Mapping Process

UAV mapping drone surveying flight path

1. Flight Planning

A programmed mission or flight plan is created to ensure that the UAV’s flight path captures data efficiently and safely. The flight plan controls the UAV autopilot.

UAV mapping drone launch

2. UAV/Drone Launch

The UAV is launched and flies the programmed flight plan. A UAV pilot monitors flight and can take control at any time.

Drone mapping orthophoto

3. Processing & Modelling

A range of products can be processed from UAV photography. These include orthophotos, which are map-accurate, corrected for terrain-relief and…

…provide the basis for digitizing and compiling topographic maps. Through a process known as dense image matching, a point cloud can also be produced. Further processing of the point cloud yields digital surface models (DSMs) showing surface structures such as buildings can be produced. Alternatively, from this same point cloud, contours and mesh models of the terrain (DTMs) showing undulations in the ground surface can be derived.
3D model from drone mapping

4. Delivery

Data analysis, 2D and 3D models are handed off. Interactive models may be embedded in PDFs, web pages, or viewed in a 3D model viewer.

UAV Surveying Accuracy & Efficiency

Evaluation of UAV Photogrammetric Accuracy for Mapping and Earthworks Computations (download PDF).

The accuracy of UAV mapping was evaluated in a paper by Chris Cryderman, Bill Mah, and Aaron Shufletoski of Photodocufy’s parent company, Underhill Geomatics Ltd. The paper was published in GEOMATICA (Volume 68, Number 4). UAV photogrammetry was found to be “accurate, efficient, and can provide increased safety over conventional terrestrial survey methods.”

Who Uses UAV Surveying & Mapping?

Industries that require small-area aerial surveys and want to reduce the cost associated with traditional manned vehicle aerial surveys are served well by UAV surveying.

Industries that benefit from UAV surveying services include:

  • GIS and mapping.
  • Oil and gas.
  • Construction.
  • Land development.
  • Mining.
  • Agriculture.
  • Sciences and exploration.
  • Inspection.

Creating a UAV flight plan
The exact flight path for UAV surveying is programmed. The UAV autopilot is controlled by the flight plan although a UAV pilot monitors flight and can take over flight at any time.

Mission planning

 UAV field assembly and preparation
Underhill uses in-house, custom-built, radio-controlled fixed wing aircraft or Octocopter drones. Both may be fitted with a laser scanner or camera.

UAV field assembly

Orthophoto of UAV-surveyed land

UAV laser surveys or photogrammetric processing techniques can collect accurate point cloud data that can then be analyzed or modelled into a range of 3D mapping products, including DSMs and DTMs.

Orthophoto with contours

Orthophoto from UAV survey data


Colourized digital surface model (DSM)
A colourized digital surface model (DSM) created from UAV survey data.

Colourized DSM

Point cloud model from UAV survey data

Laser survey data (LAS) can be converted and loaded into the Potree interactive point cloud viewer for onward sharing with stakeholders. Potree’s built-in measurement tool can compute distance, area and volume measurements.

Try It!

Find out more about UAV surveying, drone mapping and photography services. Book a consultation.