Aerial Mapping, Where do I start?

3D Mapping is commonly used in the construction, mining, agriculture etc. A clear model and photo of your subject will allow for good decision making. With multiple softwares available in the market, it has become easier to conduct drone mapping. ADLABS is currently conducting drone mapping in Indonesia as part of research and development.

Being an entry level drone mapper, its all about flight planning. Ensure safety is the utmost priority. It is important to consider trees and structures prior to flight ontop of a well maintained drone. Understanding your software well and running adequate pre-flight tests will ensure you do not loose your drone in the progress. Note that it only takes one semi colon to ruin your flight.

This post highlights some most commonly used apps and programs, you should still consider each software well before making an investment of your time and money.

1. DJI Ground Station Pro

  • Intuitive interface
  • Google 3D maps
  • Accurate flight control algorithms
  • Real-time flight monitoring
  • Auto return home
  • Keyboard/Joystick Mode
  • Click and go flight
  • Beyond Visual Range (BVR) automatic flight
  • Auto takeoff and landing
  • Customizable waypoints
  • 6 preset route templates
  • 3 waypoint turning mode options
  • Custom Servo Channel Control
  • Batch route task setting
  • Editing Real-time flight route momentarily
  • F channel controller
  • Using Relative Coordinates Editor
  • Photogrammetry tool
  • Simulation
  • Upload/download flight mission



PrecisionMapper allows processing of aerial data into 2D,3D and has an expanding library of analysis tools. There is a paid membership plan and includes a free membership option which allows basic 5 cloud based 2D/3D maps per month. The free version also has ground control points and access to free analysis tools for different industries. This is and ideal opportunity for many beginners to get their hands on drone mapping technology.

Click here to start your first drone mapping project with PrecisionMapper by precisionhawk App

3. Agisoft

A standalone software that performs photogrammetric processing of digital images and generates 3D Spatial Data.You can try this software on a 30 day free trial. The standard option is about $179 and professional edition is $3499 USD. The software once purchased can only work on one computer, unlike the Pix4D which can be installed in two. Features include photogrammetric triangulation, 3D model generation. The professional version allows thermal imaging and 4D modelling for dynamic scenes. There are inbuilt tools that conduct seemingly accurate measurements such as volume, distance and area.

With 10 years of being in the market, Agisofts software is known to be the best off the shelf softwares for the various industries.

4.Pix4D Mapper

With a flexible option of renting the software on a monthly basis you can also purchase it with a one off fee with support for one year. However it is also the most expensive software and also the most advanced.

Pix4D has inbuilt feature such as mesh editing to give you a clear model, 360 degree camera option which allows you to capture more within a shorter period. This software offers the most accuracy on its models with an automatic workflow. Its known to be simply the best option for all the mapping requirements you have and applicable to most industries.

5.Vertical Inspection – VERTSPEC

VertSpec allows mapping of vertical object such as towers,bridges, buildings VertSpec is still under its developmental stages. You are allowed to sign up for its pilot and industry beta testing program.

6.Drone Deploy

DroneDeploy is a great 3D mapping tool for beginners. Drone deploy has decent three level pricing for individuals to enterprise level use with a 14 day free trial. If you want a good range of export options, export 3D data, measure volumes and group control points you have to upgrade to the paid version. Once upgraded, you can export to Blender, Rhino, AutoCad etc. The program is also offered on iOS and Andriod where you can make interactive maps and models. The program is also easy to use as it allows automatic flight profile within the required mapping area.

The software is highly compatible with most drones, across 120 countries and it is a good starting point for most users. However advanced users might eventually shift.

Like every other software, there ought to be bugs and fixes. You can follow the latest bug reports and feedback here and better understand the issues you might face in the long run. It is always good to consider a software with good support and online community. 


Here are some startups that conduct drone inspections and monitoring.

Author: adlabs2

Arrowdynamic Laboratories Pte. Ltd. (ADLABS) was founded in 2008 anticipating imminent technological pervasion. ADLABS operates with two wings, Education and Engineering. Education involves the development of skills training programs and STEM-based enrichment programs for everyone. The engineering wing conducts research and development activities on new prototypes with potential to form into a new branch startup. Our engineering team also offers specialised services for startups, companies and institutions.

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