December 21, 2017


drone surveying


The drones have heralded in a new revolution. Data is now quicker attained and cheaper with drone surveying compared to older surveying methods. What used to take weeks and days can now takes hours and minutes.; all this while meeting industry standard accuracy requirements. The bulk of our work is within the quarrying industry because the larger the site, the larger the instance of ROI we are able to provide. How long would it have taken to have a contour map over a 283 site completed in the past? Now we can do the drone surveying field work and have the deliverables presented in 24-48 hours.

What We Do: Drone Surveying – Orthomosaic Mapping, Contour Mapping, Volumes Surveying, 3D Files for Measurements

  1. Planning,
  2. drone operations,
  3. data processing and,
  4. data delivery.

These are the four steps we implement for every drone surveying operation. The service is an end-to-end solution where we set out the site with ground control points and markers spread throughout the site, deploy our UAVs to capture aerial data and process all the data in our software to produce the required data deliverables and deliver them in the appropriate format.


So far our drone surveying data deliverables have included orthomosaic mapping of sites, contour mapping and volumes surveying of present stockpile material for quarry sites. Our 3D model files can be used for measurement analysis in AutoCAD and so far they have been used to measure distances, areas and dimensions of plant e.g. for planning the movement of plant from one area to another and ensuring there is adequate space to do so etc.

Our orthomosaics provide a high quality overview of the status of the site. Below is an example of  mapped quarry and associated lands:

quarry mapping

These maps contain many stitched and overlapped photos and the .tif file we present increases resolution with zoom so that clients have access to an easily managed site overview.

Our contour mapping (produced from the same mapping mission) provides clients with accurate terrain information for the purposes of planning. Connected lines of the same altitude indicate the steepness or gentleness of slopes. We present these in AutoCAD format for our clients to use for their measurement and planning purposes. This can help for further development (e.g. areas to blast) of the land or for planning application purposes for new sites. Local Authorities are accepting them to form the basis of an application.

Over such large areas our clients would previously have found it very difficult to get such actionable data and information so quickly and in such a cost-effective manner.

We can also create drawings, digitizing features of the site such as roads, buildings, plant, vegetation and water bodies. Due to confidentiality we aren’t able to share how that looks here but can show a hard copy in person.

Drone Surveying: Drone Volumes Surveying

Our clients make use of drone volumes surveying to assess the amount of material they have in their stockpiles. This helps them to plan e.g. do they have enough material to fulfil orders and if not they can quickly assess expenditure and resources required to produce the required material. Other uses are for general necessary accounting and reporting purposes. Below is an example of a site map annotated for volumes that we present to clients:

Quarry stockpile volumes surveying


We are licensed to fly in controlled airspace and we make applications to the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) when doing so which are then passed for approval by the relevant air traffic control (ATC) representative depending on which airspace we are working in. The same procedure applies for restriction zones for which we have also been given license to fly in. Our turnaround periods are very fast here because we are experienced airspace operators in Dublin in particular.We have processes under control and are able to ensure any drone surveying mission is never caught in red tape. We can usually get approval for a next-day flight.

IAAIAA licenced, insured to €6.5MM


We are building a team of photogrammetrist data processors for our drone surveying operations. We’re in the field and on the ground and they are on the computers. This means we can keep flying and we can keep getting work done. We are currently working at 24-48 hours turnaround, which for larger sites hasn’t before been conceivable for our clients.

We are striving to keep strictly within these timeframes no matter how much work we have on and our team is integral to this. By the same token, no drone surveying job is too big or too small. Our work has delighted and it has won us clients who represent the largest owners and operators of quarries in Ireland while we also work with independents: companies with single-site operations/two or three sites.

drone surveying cherrywood

As regards capabilities, photo resolution is the prime consideration for drone surveying. We operate the latest DJI hardware with camera specs at 20MP (DJI Phantom 4 Pro). Battery life is a bit under half an hour. We carry four batteries which take an hour to charge; theoretically swapping batteries on charge will allow for almost indefinite flight. We also have backup hardware. We use state-of-the-art Leica and Topcon RTK GPS equipment for data collection in the field and our processing team uses ground-breaking and industry revolutionizing software including Agisoft Photoscan, Pix4D, Civil3D, AutoCAD and very powerful processing softwares such as Terrasolid and Geopro.

Client Benefits

Our clients operate very large sites which cover substantial areas of land, sometimes into the hundreds of acres (though we do work on smaller sized projects).

drone surveying

Their problem has been analyzing the land, its features, levels, contours and volumes of stockpiles for various planning purposes in an efficient and cost effective manner. With their existing methods, cost effectiveness has come at the cost of efficiency (ground surveying) while efficiency (think deployment of airplanes for data capture) has come at a significant monetary cost. They have used both methods to varying degrees (the first named method more frequently for data capture over manageable area sizes and the second as an occasional use for data capture over large areas).

drone surveying

Our drone surveying methods bridge the gap between the two by being cost effective (actually even more so than ground surveying) and with capacity to capture data quickly over very large areas. Our methods are quickly being seen as the one that makes the most sense for all considerations; the benefits are extensive and even obvious in some cases.


Q. Do you do anything else with the drones?

A. Construction progress photos/video; commercial video:


N.B. for surveying jobs we normally throw in site aerial photos and sometimes video.


DroneSpect, t/a DataDrone CRO No. 590508