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Drone mapping is a recent iteration of aerial photogrammetry, the science of taking measurements from photographs, or a method of creating topographic maps from aerial photography. Multiple overhead shots of a location are combined to create 2D or 3D models or maps for the purposes of land surveying. These models are used in industries like construction, mining, city planning, and environmental research.
Previously, aerial photogrammetry required advanced digital cameras to be mounted to the bottom of an aircraft while someone inside the craft controlled the camera to take pictures. The area was flown over multiple times to obtain multiple shots, and close-up shots were taken by remote-controlled planes. If the whole land area cannot be captured, it's difficult to create an accurate 3D model, so aerial photogrammetry is combined with other photographic technology like laser scanners and LiDAR technology (a method of measurement using laser light).
This method of mapping is commonly used for land surveying and has increased in efficiency because of drones. Drone mapping is aerial photogrammetry taken to the next level. Drones are easier to use and more cost-efficient when compared to traditional methods of aerial photogrammetry. Rather than having to rely on a large, costly manned aircraft, a pilot can simply fly a drone with a vertically-mounted camera overhead and quickly take pictures from the ground.
After enough quality images have been taken, the client or pilot can use drone mapping software to create their digital map of the location. Different software options are available for mapping. DroneDeploy is a well-reviewed option that's used in more than 180 countries. DroneDeploy produces drone mapping software to facilitate the creation of 3D models, and they state that their goal is to unify the commercial drone industry and increase the accessibility of drone data. In addition to DroneDeploy, there are other options like Pix4D, Agisoft, and Precision Hawk.
I am a writer and an artist based in Georgia. Specializing in illustration, graphic design, and video art, I love to explore the new ways technology intersects with art. I think drones have done amazing things for photography and video art, making what would previously be costly and difficult more accessible. As a complete novice, it was only recently that I saw what independent artists could do with their drones, and I continue to be impressed by the sights that drones are able to explore and the images they can capture. Instagram: @tyesha.ferron