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 be either 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 with 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, accurate data. 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 civil engineering surveyors’ knowledge and experience to give you superior results with high-quality 3D models of your assets. Unmanned Aerial vehicles are here to stay and like many industries, they have transformed land surveying.

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 in mapping and 3d modelling the real world. 3d models are much better than a flat 2D CAD drawing.
  • Measured building surveys, particularly in difficult-to-access areas, using autonomous drone surveys and state-of-the-art collision avoidance technology.
  • Asset 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.
  • Thermographic Surveys: Check for water leaks, mechanical failures, Solar panel failures, or heat loss in your buildings or assets.
  • Building inspections and roof surveys: High-resolution images of buildings and roof inspections, often in tandem with thermal surveys, to rapidly assess defects without expensive scaffolding, cherry pickers or scissor platforms.

Contact us to explore the benefits of a drone aerial survey

Aerial Surveys are quicker, safer and more cost-effective than traditional surveys

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:

  • Construction and civil engineering,
  • Architecture,
  • Infrastructure,
  • Utilities,
  • Transportation,
  • Asset Management,
  • Loss Adjustment, 
  • Legal Services,
  • Manufacturing,
  • Quarrying & landfill,
  • Forestry,
  • Energy Production,
  • Flood Management,
  • Real Estate & estate management,
  • Property development,
  • Town Planning,
  • Project management,
  • Quarrying & Waste management,
  • Risk Management.
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
A section of the above site shows 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 traditional land surveys or topographical surveys

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 add tremendous value for our clients. For example, 3d Models of the whole site with dense point clouds, orthographic images, volumes and inspection reports

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

Sparse point cloud with camera positions

BMW Mini plant in Oxford. Sparse point cloud and 36k camera position from a photogrammetry survey over a weekend. A traditional survey would have taken weeks.
Read more about this survey:
Case study: drone surveying of a large industrial complex

This survey was carried out using photogrammetry and also included a thermographic survey inspecting each flat roof for water leaks and inspecting the photovoltaic solar panels for faults.

Sparse point cloud of the entire survey area

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 record the observed angles and distances from known stations manually. 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 who 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, improving the data collection rate. 
  • More recently, Robotic One-man Total Stations appeared, reducing the survey crew to just one surveyor operating the instrument remotely from the detail pole. Again, this improves the rate of data collection.
  • The advent of survey-grade Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) / Global Positioning systems (GPS) was later transformed by Real Time Kinematics (RTK), which supplied corrections in real-time via mobile signals. Further enhancing the rate of data collection.
  • We can see that data collection has transformed again with 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 high-resolution photogrammetry and Lidar remote sensing technology, are allowing land surveyors to literally reach new heights of data acquisition from higher vantage points. The deliverables for our clients are equally impressive, with visually stunning and precise 3d models and more conventional drone topographical surveys and mapping. Contact us to see how these deliverables can transform your business. We aim to apply our land survey experience and know how to do drone surveying, making 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 high-resolution photogrammetry to survey the parts other surveys can’t reach accurately
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. The Benefits of Joining Professional Bodies in 2024

With the rise of drone technology, many hobbyists have become commercial drone pilots and are leveraging drones’ benefits for 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 to properly understand a site’s topography, land use 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.

A qualified land surveyor can also integrate more traditional land surveying methods and technology to collect and tailor more comprehensive data to your needs. So if you need a measured building survey or a topographical survey, we can provide an integrated ground and drone-based measured survey or a drone topographical survey.
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

Safer, quicker & cheaper