Drones and their many uses


Ground surveys can be a time consuming and expensive part of any project. Traditional methods of using total stations or GPS units can take weeks to complete (depending on site size), run into thousands of pounds and take several more weeks to get the processed data back. As part of our drive to innovate, reduce environmental impact and provide good cost effective solutions, we have been experimenting with drone technology to improve the speed, cost and safety of obtaining a ground survey with some good results.


Drone technology has moved rapidly in the last 18 months; new aircraft and more capabilities mean they are being used for more and more tasks. Photogrammetry is not new; however, its use to be able to provide survey data and PTS (point cloud data) export is. This technology uses photographs taken by the aircraft, GPS data and the angle of the on-board camera to piece together a 3D model which can then be exported and turned into a useable CAD model. The data captured can then be imported into CAD to create a 3D ground model to enable cross sections, level data and a visualisation of the site.


Drone surveys, although in their infancy, have many benefits over traditional surveys.

Speed – Surveying a site which would take a ground crew several hours, takes less than 4 minutes using a drone. The processed data is returned within 24 hours of capture and can be streamed live to a computer if the need arises. Traditional surveys can take a week or two to get results back.

Cost – Can reduce the cost of a survey by a significant amount due to reduced man hours on site and the speed of data processing.

Safety – With the photorealistic model produced, it reduces the need for people to go into hazardous or unsafe areas to visualise the site. (asbestos areas, landslips etc.)

Environmental Impact – The drone is a non-intrusive survey technique compared to traditional methods. Nobody has to enter the site, less chance of cross contamination, no heavy plant or machinery required and results allow for site visualisation without attending, cutting down travel time for staff.

Want to know more?

For more information: Charlotte Woodhall-Jones

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