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The perfect drone mapping software program for your enterprise


Drone mapping software program can serve many functions, together with producing maps, level clouds, 3D fashions and DEMs. It’s utilized in many industries, together with agriculture, oil and gasoline, city planning, land administration and extra.

And there are tons of drone mapping softwares on the market to know; DroneDeploy and Pix4D are two of the largest names, each of that are cloud-based and very user-friendly.  Nevertheless, a number of different platforms exist as options to those two giants, together with Agisoft Meta Form, Propellor and WebODM. 

So which one is finest for you? Aaron Parnell, proprietor and Chief Pilot of Unmanned Aerial Operations — which is an aerial imaging, aerial video and drone mapping firm based mostly in North Carolina — reviewed 5 main drone mapping software program merchandise to find out the most effective for every use case and finances.

All of the mapping engines reviewed right here provide instruments reminiscent of quantity, space, slope and distance measurements, and most additionally provide map outputs reminiscent of topographic maps, reduction maps, and 3D Fashions. A few of these apps, reminiscent of Propeller, additionally provide further measurements and map outputs.

best drone mapping software DroneDeploy
DroneDeploy consists of options that allow you to view and examine elevation, plant well being, and thermal information, examine as-built to as-designed with design plan overlays, and discover 2D maps, 3D fashions, images, panoramas, and movies in a single answer.

DroneDeploy: The perfect for most individuals who aren’t on a finances

DroneDeploy ranks as probably the most user-friendly platforms there may be — and it’s one of many largest cloud software program platforms designed for industrial drones that you simply’ll discover. Its clients have mapped a mixed 200 million acres because the San Francisco-based drone mapping firm launched in 2013. DroneDeploy additionally claims that its software program is used throughout greater than 400,000 job websites in additional than 180 international locations worldwide.

DroneDeploy software program allows you to discover maps, images, movies, and panoramas on any system, enabling you so as to add feedback, annotations, and measurements to any map in 2D or 3D.

Why DroneDeploy is nice

Nice causes to make use of DroneDeploy embody in-app flight planning, actual time orthomosaic constructing, cloud based mostly processing and sharing, and the truth that the software program helps a number of manufacturers of drones in addition to a number of fashions made by these manufacturers.

For a lot of, DroneDeploy supporting many alternative drones is a large think about selecting DroneDeploy. DroneDeploy helps drones not particularly made for mapping, which is an enormous deal to the brand new pilots who could not personal a $12,000 mapping drone.

Among the many drones supported by DroneDeploy are a few of DJI’s hottest (and never notably costly) drones, together with:

DroneDeploy additionally helps the Skydio 2 drone. See the total listing of DroneDeploy-supported drones right here.

Whereas drone is in its title, DroneDeploy doesn’t simply restrict itself to flying robots both. The corporate’s 360 Walkthrough software program launched again in 2020 to perform with each aerial and any on-the-ground 360-cameras (hand-held or robotic), focused primarily at permitting customers to construct a complete, digital reconstruction of any job web site.

Jono Millin, DroneDeploy’s Chief Information Officer and co-founder, with a floor robotic from Boston Dynamics. Photograph courtesy of DroneDeploy.

DroneDeploy has a number of plans to select from, every with completely different worth factors that provide more and more extra options as you go up in worth. Amongst these are Ag Lite (which is particularly designed for precision agriculture use circumstances), Particular person, Superior, Groups and Enterprise.

The truth that DroneDeploy is cloud-based is one other enormous benefit of the software program. Even when your pc has terabytes of storage, you’ll possible profit significantly from cloud-based mapping software program. That’s as a result of downloading maps and fashions places an excessive toll in your reminiscence utilization. Not like regular photographs reminiscent of JPEG’s and PNG’s, orthomosaic DSMs and DTMs use giant quantities of information to retain high quality and GEO referencing.

One other standout device supplied by DroneDeploy is the location comparability to earlier surveys. Building firms extremely worth this as a result of development is well seen. Just like how engineers will layer blueprints to see how the mission will come collectively, DroneDeploy permits enterprise to do the identical as a digital mannequin.

Since DroneDeploy is a paid service, the client help you’ll obtain is top-notch. Past intensive DroneDeploy help documentation, there’s additionally a DroneDeploy neighborhood discussion board. Or, you possibly can click on ‘Assist’ from inside your DroneDeploy mission to talk with a DroneDeploy worker.

DroneDeploy software program delivers automated insights, reminiscent of automated tree counting.

Why DroneDeploy won’t be a match for you

DroneDeploy is among the many costliest drone mapping softwares on the market, and its price ticket shouldn’t be precisely clear both.

Particular person plans begin at $329 per 30 days, however that’s provided that you decide to a yr. If you wish to use it with out the year-long dedication, you’ll pay $499 per 30 days. Plus, the upgraded model of the software program with extra bells and whistles will run a good heftier $599 per 30 days (that’s greater than $7,100 per yr).

What occurs if you happen to’re not a sole proprietor or entrepreneur? When you’re on the lookout for a model in your total group, you’ll should name DroneDeploy to request a demo. Whereas it’s costlier than the person plan, DroneDeploy shouldn’t be clear in regards to the precise worth — you’ll should name to search out out, and it’ll range based mostly in your group.

Creating digital twins with aerial inspections, PIX4Dscan and PIX4Dinspect are streamlining operations for main telecom operators.

Pix4D: the most effective drone mapping software program if you happen to’re on a tighter finances

 Pix 4D is a cloud-based mapping software program program designed for photogrammetry, which is a method of mapping that creates photographs of land by utilizing giant numbers of images. These images are then composited collectively as full-color, textured photographs.

Pix4D has been round since 2011, when it began as a derivative of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Laptop Imaginative and prescient Lab in Switzerland.

Measuring antennas’ angles on PIX4Dinspect

Why Pix4D is nice

Pix4D is particularly helpful given its excessive diploma of customization, permitting you to keep away from paying for options you don’t want (and solely paying for those you do). Not like DroneDeploy, which provides subscription tiers, Pix4D allows you to purchase the items of the software program you need, such because the flight planner, the processing platform, or a map editor. Inside these choices, extra superior instruments can be found based mostly on a tier system much like Drone Deploy.

Since Pix4D is a paid service, the client help you’ll obtain is top-notch with a help line to name, a assist middle to message, and loads of on-line boards to skim by means of.

Pix 4D’s cloud software program is much like Drone Deploy in that it’s shareable and your maps will all be saved on their servers. Nevertheless, you do have the choice to obtain onto your drive. Pix4D’s outputs, particularly their orthomosaics, are very spectacular. This software program’s skill to supply glorious and correct orthomosaics is considerably unmatched within the enviornment of cloud-based processing software program. 

One thing particular about Pix4D is the LiDAR processing instruments. The opposite mapping engines on this listing don’t provide LiDAR processing. Whilst you can visualize the purpose cloud from the LiDAR scan in all of the mapping engines on this listing, utilizing Pix4D lets you course of, visualize and export a LiDAR dataset into Autocad.

Pix4D pricing prices

Why Pix4D won’t be a match for you

Regardless of being our finances choose, understand that this software program continues to be comparatively costly to run. With plans ranging in worth from $58 a month to $315 a month, you’ll spend much less cash than you’d utilizing DroneDeploy, nevertheless it nonetheless received’t come low cost.

Propeller best drone mapping software construction

Propeller: The perfect for building firms 

Propeller is a platform that’s based mostly on a mannequin of pay-per map course of. (For instance, Propeller offers their aerial mapping answer at $250 per map). 

Why Propeller is nice

You’ll obtain all map outputs from this one processor reminiscent of your orthomosaic, DTM, 3-D mannequin, plant well being, together with an unlimited array of measurement instruments to look at and analyze your job web site with. 

The drones really useful for utilization with Propeller software program embody the Phantom 4 RTK and the Wingtra One.

Since Propellor is a paid service, the client help you’ll obtain is high notch. Just like the opposite paid apps listed, Propeller provides a help name line that responds swiftly. Additionally they embody a messaging platform for help, and you may request a name if needed.

A Propeller Aeropoint
A Propeller Aeropoint

Whereas DroneDeploy and Pix 4D each provide measurement instruments as effectively, Propeller blows them each out of the water with instruments reminiscent of: 

  • Elevation Distinction  
  • Highway Grade  
  • Floor Space 
  • Design to Design 
  • Quantity from Lowest Level
  • Earthworks Progress
  • Elevation Historical past
  • Cross-Part Comparability
  • Examine to Earlier Survey 
  • Berm Verify  
  • Examine to Newest Design

This software program is geared extra in the direction of firms utilizing an inner drone inside their mapping division, versus a pilot on the lookout for a mapping software program to make use of for their very own enterprise. That’s as a result of paying $250 for a map is just a better monetary transfer if you happen to solely plan on conducting a mapping mission, say, as soon as a month. For a corporation that intends to make many extra maps than that, the per-map value of Propeller is probably going not financially value it.

Why Propeller won’t be a match for you

The largest disadvantage of Propeller is that It requires you to make use of what’s referred to as an Aeropoint (which is a highly-precise, good floor management level) so as to course of your imagery with any accuracy. Whereas Aeropoints are nice for each freshmen and survey veterans given their straightforward use and excessive precision, they’re removed from wallet-friendly; an Aeropoint prices simply over $1000.

One other disadvantage of this software program is that you simply’ll have to discover a flight planning app to execute your automated flights (propeller doesn’t provide one). The drones really useful for utilization with propeller software program are the Phantom 4 RTK and the Wingtra One. That are each costly drones costing upwards of 10,000 {dollars}. 

WebODM free GIS drone mapping software OpenDroneMap

WebODM: The perfect free drone mapping software program

For these with a background in GIS, utilizing WebODM in tandem with one other software program QGIS, OpenDroneMap often is the proper alternative for you. Contemplate this software program duo to be the most effective different for many who could not wish to make investments hundreds of {dollars} right into a cloud-based mapping software program. 

WebODM features

Why WebODM is nice

WebODM is a neighborhood drone mapping software program (that means it runs in your laborious drive) that gives customers comparable map outputs as that of Drone Deploy, Pix4D, and a few of Propeller. It additionally permits for an array of measurements to be taken within the software program. With a purpose to use WebODM, you must have a grasp on GIS. GIS is brief for Geographic Data Techniques, or in different phrases: digital mapping. Unmanned Aerial Operations (UAO) makes use of internet ODM in tandem with the open supply GIS platform, QGIS. This enables UAO to course of drone imagery into maps, fashions and measurements, with an accuracy increased than most platforms. 

Why WebODM won’t be a match for you

On condition that it’s an open supply platform, WebODM requires some data of coding for set up. 

WebODM’s help line shouldn’t be the identical as these different mapping engines. To get assist, you’ll have to put up within the WebODM discussion board and hope somebody solutions your query.

Whereas cost-effective, these two softwares will not be precisely probably the most user-friendly. 

Agisoft Metashape: Nice for creating 3D fashions

Agisoft Metashape is a cloud based mostly and native imagery processing platform targeted on processing and delivering 3D fashions. Whereas this software program does provide a measurement device, it’s restricted when in comparison with Propeller. 

A 3D model made with Agisoft Metashape.
A 3D mannequin made with Agisoft Metashape.

Why Agisoft Metashape is nice

Agisoft Metashape’s 3D mannequin outputs are a homerun, and are by far the most effective on this group of drone imagery software program.

Since Agisoft Metashape is a paid service, the client help you’ll obtain is top-notch. You’ll be capable of name the help line if you happen to run into hassle, ship an electronic mail to help, or examine the boards utilized by Agisoft’s customers

Just like Propellor within the plethora of distinctive instruments that Agisoft Metashape provides are:

  • Dense level cloud: modifying and classification
  • Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) registration
  • Floor management factors / scale bar help
  • Stereoscopic measurements
  • Hierarchical tiled mannequin technology
  • 4D modeling for dynamic scenes
  • Automated energy line detection
  • Satellite tv for pc imagery processing

Why Agisoft won’t be a match for you

Agisoft is a paid service, starting from $179 to $3,499. Like the opposite softwares, the extra you pay, the extra you obtain. Nevertheless on this case, you solely have two choices: Pay $179 for the processing device — permitting you to take your drone imagery and create a mannequin — or pay $3,499 for the total package deal which incorporates instruments that will not be related to you as a drone pilot reminiscent of 3D modeling texture instruments used for industries like online game design.

Not like the opposite firms listed right here, Agisoft is a Russian firm. For these wishing to make use of merchandise made in the USA, keep away from this one. 

best drone mapping software DJI matrice

The underside line

Most of those platforms provide free trials, permitting you to check out every one to personally decide which software program is finest for you. 

Earlier than making a call, perceive your finances, how typically you intend on utilizing the software program, and your skill to navigate and leverage the software program to your wants.

Whereas most of the software program options supplied by these drone mapping firms are extremely dear, it might end up that a lot of them ultimately fall in worth to stay aggressive. 

-By Aaron Parnell

Go to Unmanned Aerial Operations for extra from Aaron. When you’d prefer to submit a visitor put up, contact The Drone Woman right here.

Need to study extra about tips on how to create your individual 3D map? Contemplate enrolling within the Drone Mapping & Modeling Fundamentals course supplied by Drone Launch Academy. In it, you’ll discover ways to create detailed and correct 2D maps and fashions along with your drone — and finally tips on how to use your drone mapping and modeling expertise to land jobs. Enroll in Drone Launch Academy’s Drone Mapping & Modeling Fundamentals course right here. Plus use coupon code DRONEGIRLMAPS to deliver the standard $399 all the way down to $249. That’s $150 financial savings!

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