drone surveying - not all drones are equal.

Drone Surveying: See it, measure it & report it

UAV Drones are transforming the way we see the world

A drone is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). UAVs can either be Fixed-Wing drones or Multi-Rotor drones. A drone survey gives an unrivalled bird’s eye view of your project.

Drone Surveying DJI M300 drone with L1 lidar scanner

Drone Surveying DJI M300 drone with L1 lidar scanner

Fixed-wing drones have a longer flight time/range but are less manoeuvrable

Fixed-wing drones have a longer flight time/range but are less manoeuvrable

As drones get more affordable and versatile they are becoming more accessible to all sorts of people who would have never been mapping before. However, a professional surveyor who has an in-depth understanding of modelling the real world can produce better quality models. Qualified Surveyors have an in-depth understanding of measuring and modelling the real world. Surveyors understand what goes in has a direct bearing on what comes out. Building in precision means a process that often involves work without a single point being measured. A full understanding of precision and repeatability and a rigorous approach to data gathering transforms average data into precise data that is also accurate. Efficient workflows, compliant with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) GVC using survey-grade DJI drones underpin that. Drone surveys leverage all the benefits of drones with our surveyor’s knowledge and experience to give you superior results.

Accuracy and precision aren’t the same

Drone surveys: Accuracy and precision aren't the same
Accuracy and precision aren’t the same. It is important to understand the difference

We provide the following drone surveying services:

  • Drone Mapping: Photogrammetric or Lidar surveys. Drone mapping is far quicker to measure than a conventional topographical survey. Comparable survey-grade data is achievable with the correct workflow.
  • Drone Inspection reports: Roof and inaccessible location inspection, condition and thermographic reports. These can be particularly useful when inspecting equipment where safety is a concern.
  • Drone progress monitoring reports: repeated flight monitoring and progress for construction and civil works.
  • 3d modelling / digital twins: 30 years experience of in mapping and modelling the real world.
  • Measured building surveys particularly in difficult-to-access areas using autonomous drone surveys and state-of-the-art collision avoidance technology.
  • Assessment management surveys: quickly map your assets, know where they are, their condition and other data sets imported into your GIS system
  • Crop surveys: Map your farmland with ease and routinely monitor your crops.
  • Videography: Video footage can be great for cataloguing assets or recording events.
  • Photography: Photos can also provide a great record of assets and events.
Clogworks drone with Riegl laser scanner payload

Clogworks drone with Riegl laser scanner payload

Industry sectors covered

At Crucial Services, we can offer Drone Surveying and Land Surveying Services to help make sure your project is a success. From our base in Shropshire, we support sectors with drone surveys, land surveys and setting out services. Sectors supported include:

Ground profile change comparison survey

Compare survey data over time from a variety of sources

Section through a site showing ground profile changes over time
Section of the above site showing the pre-existing ground levels derived from the Environment Agency Lidar Data.
This profile is compared to the drone survey data – Digital Terrain Model (DTM) and Digital Surface Model (DSM)

What are the benefits of a drone mapping survey

Aerial-based Land Surveys offer the best data coverage, and accuracy, with highly visual deliverables using Airborne Photogrammetry and Lidar/Laser Scanning.

In short, drone mapping topographical surveys are:

Quicker, safer and more cost-effective than a traditional land survey

Quicker with drone mapping

Up to 80% quicker on site. A traditional ground-based survey that normally takes a day to survey can be flown and measured in under an hour.

Safer with drone mapping

Fewer boots on the ground in risky situations, reduced operational disruptions during surveys and lower chances of trips, falls or collisions with site machinery means increased site safety.

Cost-effective drone mapping

Relative to a traditional site survey drone mapping is far more cost-effective. Productivity gains, greater intelligence for managers and AEC professionals, and better deliverables all add tremendous value for our clients.

Read more about the 6 reasons why you need a drone survey

3d model extracted from a drone photogrammetry survey – showing point cloud and mesh. Drones allow us to gather data quickly and efficiently

Ground Land Surveys evolve with drone surveys

We have over 30 years of experience as Land Surveyors. Professional land surveyors have seen many changes over the years as technology changes have yielded huge productivity increases.

  • Years ago optical theodolites were used by a team of 3 to 5 Land Surveyors to manually record the observed angles and distances from known stations. Angles were optically read from glass circles. Tapes were used to measure distances. Measurements were logged by hand into field books. The measurements were transcribed using sheet compasses onto drafting film as a point plot with linework added using ink pens and French Curves.
  • Electronic Distance Measuring devices appeared replacing the survey crew members that were handling the tapes. Greater distances were measurable reducing the number of stations required to carry out a survey.
  • Later electronic theodolites replaced the glass circles. Data loggers appeared that allowed the recording of angles and distances. 
  • More recently Robotic One-man Total Stations appeared reducing the survey crew to just 1 surveyor operating the instrument remotely from the detail pole.
  • The advent of survey-grade Global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) / Global Positioning systems (GPS) was later transformed by Real Time Kinematics (RTK) supplying corrections in real-time via mobile signals. Now we are seeing that transformed again by the arrival of survey-grade Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).

Drone surveys have now elevated the survey workflow to a whole new level. Drone-based land surveys, using photogrammetry and Lidar remote sensing technology, are allowing land surveyors to literally reach new heights of data acquisition. The deliverables for our clients are equally impressive with visually stunning and precise 3d models as well as more conventional drone topographical surveys and mapping. Contact us if you would like to see how these deliverables can transform how you do business. Our aim is to apply our land survey experience and know how to do drone surveying and make your job easier.

3d model of planning application site and surrounding area
3d model of planning application site and surrounding area
DJI Matrice 300 was used for a recent drone survey of a planning application site. Land survey & measured building survey using GeoSlam and photogrammetry to accurately survey the parts other surveys can’t reach
Drone Survey: Enhancing Measured Building & Land Survey Data by reaching areas a ground survey can't reach. Orthographic image of textured 3d model

Drone Survey: Enhancing Measured Building & Land Survey Data | Crucial Services

Why is using a qualified land surveyor for your drone survey important?

In the UK anyone can call themselves a surveyor without any qualification in surveying. However, most surveyors work for reputable companies and have spent years qualifying as surveyors. They have gained knowledge and understanding through their qualifications and work experience and are members of professional bodies. Professional bodies uphold standards and monitor surveyors continuing professional development.

With the rise of drone technology, many hobbyists have become commercial drone pilots and are leveraging the benefits drones bring to surveying. However, such pilots may not be qualified as surveyors or carry the same level of insurance as a surveyor, making it important to use a qualified land surveyor for a proper understanding of a site’s topography and setting. Finding an experienced and trusted surveyor is essential if you are a construction site manager, building developer, asset manager, project manager, facility manager, architect, planner or quarry manager.

Additionally, a qualified land surveyor can also integrate more traditional land survey technology to ensure more comprehensive is collected and tailored to your specific needs.
Read more about our Land Surveying services here.

Benefits of using Crucial Services for your commercial drone survey services

  • Professionally qualified land surveyors with RICS and CICES
  • GVC-qualified commercial drone pilots with CAA Operational Authorization
  • Member of Arpas UK and RSPsoc trade associations
  • Professional Indemnity insurance at the surveyor level not a drone pilot level but still covered for both
  • Public Liability insurance as surveyors and drone pilots
  • Survey insurance and drone insurance
  • Survey grade data capture regardless of the methodology
  • Faster, cheaper data capture
  • Comprehensive data coverage