Why Drone Survey is the New Normal

Drone Survey is at its epitome in every survey industry with the technology and features it comes equipped with. The downward-facing RGB camera captures images from various vantage points. Photogrammetry software easily recreates the industry-level 3D geo-referenced digital terrain models with or without contour lining. A much more worthy, cost and time-effective approach can be pulled up with this Modern Marvel.

Drone surveys are way safer and more efficient. You will often find surveyors say “Drones make it safer to gain quantities and stockpile measurements. Drones can be flown from a safe location and capture the data for the entire site without someone having to manually take a reading by climbing over a stockpile which could be hazardous. Instead, the drones can fly over the site and generate a model afterward, which we can review in the office.”

Comparison between the traditional methods of surveying v/s Drone Surveys:

Time Saving

A traditional survey will take anywhere between 2-3 weeks to cover an area of 600 - 700 acres whereas a drone can cover the same area within a day. This makes drone surveying a more preferred option for mine or any larger area projects. The top-selling point is that drones are more efficient and accurate data collection methods that are much faster and cheaper than traditional methods. Drones can scan from 600 – to 700 acres a day (per team). The real-time data is then ready to put into action, and the final output can be procured within a day or a few weeks.

Cost Savings

As drones can survey 600 - 700 acres in a few hours and produce highly accurate maps along with point clouds the process becomes extremely efficient and operations are much faster which ends up saving thousands of dollars per survey. Data from drone surveys cannot be easily manipulated which brings a lot of trust to the technology.


Team's safety and security come first, right! So, these remotely controlled vehicles can easily track down everything you need from a safe to reach position, thus reducing the potential risks of the on-site teams, especially in mining surveys. It is safe to say that drones can significantly reduce the number of hazards that surveyors are exposed to on the worksite.

Efficiency in Project Management

Drone surveys make it easier to track the progress of the survey and other operations on the field. With Skylark’s product, DMO (Drone Mission Ops) project managers can remotely track all the activities of the drone pilot and guide them through any problem that they might be facing on the field.

Accuracy of data

DGPS/TS is accurate only at the points where readings are taken. Elevation models are generated using these sparse points by interpolation, leading to a higher chance for errors. Whereas a dense point cloud is generated with lakhs of points having elevation values. Elevation models from these are more densely & accurately interpolated.


DGPS/TS surveys are largely manual & are hindered when climbing large stockpiles or through dense vegetation areas. A drone is not limited by tough terrains or vegetation.

Let us understand how is a drone survey more accurate and efficient than traditional methods

DGPS/TS Survey VS Drone survey : Time & Cost Saving

Survey planning to capturing the data and data delivery is far more easier and faster for a Drone survey.
Skylark Drone’s product DMO (Drone Mission Ops) can help with:

- Plan the drone missions
- Plan the GCP Locations
- Fleet management
- Team management

DGPS/TS Survey VS Drone survey : Ease of Data Collection

Drones have one of the biggest advantages over traditional methods and that is, they can cover/ survey the entire Area of Interest in a few flights. The data from here can be processed together to get Orthomosaic, Elevation models, and point clouds. These outputs will essentially have all the information needed, Spectra can store them together in a centralized platform and makes it convenient for any user to compare surveys and track the progress of the worksite.

ALSO CHECK: Ground Control Points (GCPs)- What are they and how do we use them?

Not only is it an efficient way of collecting vast quantities of knowledge, but it also means all the knowledge is gathered in one go, rather than conducting a ground-based survey, only to seek out that it must be redone because a part of the location has been missed.

And even if you don't need part of the data set immediately, it can be stored in Spectra, the cloud-based platform ready for when you do, without the need for additional fieldwork.

For instance, this geo-referenced 2D Orthomosaic of 50-70 acres was captured during a single 15 minute flight with the DJI Phantom 4 RTK.

In just one image, the team can identify problems, track productivity, decide where to deploy machinery or build a new cell for landfills, and manage/monitor environmental areas.

And the resolution is so good, that site managers can zoom into specific sections of the map to view the situation in more detail.

The Resolution or The Ground Sampling Distance can be adjusted by the quality of the drone's camera and the flight altitude while planning the drone flight mission. DMO helps you plan your mission in a few minutes effortlessly.

The drone data after being processed can be visualized on Spectra in both 2D and 3D form for a dynamic perspective which allows the user to make multiple valuable measurements and give deeper insights into the worksite. These measurements can be saved for later use as well.

The insightful information that drone surveys along with spectra can give is simply not possible with traditional methods which include DGPS or Total Station surveys. A spectra user can subsequently share this information with other team members and stakeholders to help them make better data-driven decisions.

DGPS/TS Survey VS Drone survey : Safety

DGPS/TS surveys are largely manual & are hindered when climbing large stockpiles or through dense vegetation areas. Whereas A drone is not limited by tough terrains or vegetation.

Stockpile Measurements done traditionally will require people to climb over the dumps to take readings every few centimeters/meters, this data collection method can be extremely dangerous as the stockpiles usually have steep slopes and are extremely unstable.
All these manual works can be easily avoided by using a drone to survey the stockpile, which will be more accurate and using a point cloud which will have data points in every 3 cm. As the data points are so close to one another the accuracy of Stockpile volumes will be much higher as Elevation models from these are more densely & accurately interpolated.

DGPS/TS Survey VS Drone survey : Deeper Insights

Drone enables surveyors to collect high resolution accurate data of the entire site. As drones can be flown to the entire site from a safe location and can be controlled remotely. Data capture becomes easy even in the non-accessible or dangerous areas, like in a mining environment.
These data are so high resolution that it can give much more deeper and wide-ranging insights to drive decision making for the mine managers.

Each of the photogrammetric outputs that are, Orthomosaic, DSM, DTM, Point Cloud, 3D mesh can help the user make contours & spotlevels of any interval. A user can find any measurements along with precise latitude and longitude of any feature. All these are possible because of drones using geo-tagged images which help produce 3D geo-data.

Combining these photogrammetric outputs with a Cloud-based platform like Spectra, Skylark Drones can empower any layman who does not have deep GIS or Photogrammetric expertise with all the insightful measurements tools and functionalities. Spectra enables users to calculate Cut & Fill volumes for open pit mines or stockpiles. Schedule a Free Spectra Demo to know more


With changing time and proliferation of technological advancement, it's more important to go digital, focus on safety and take advantage of aerial intelligence to make more data driven accurate decisions. Hence its fair to conclude that Drone Survey is becoming the go-to option for every worksite not only for better outcomes but also for saving cost & time.

Skylark Drones