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The best drone mapping software for your business


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 fuel, 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 most important names, each of that are cloud-based and intensely user-friendly.  Nevertheless, a number of different platforms exist as alternate options to those two giants, together with Agisoft Meta Form, Propellor and WebODM. 

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

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

DroneDeploy contains 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, pictures, panoramas, and movies in a single resolution.

DroneDeploy: The very best for most individuals who aren’t on a price range

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 business drones that you just’ll discover. Its prospects 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 enables you to discover maps, pictures, 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 primarily based 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 various drones is a large think about selecting DroneDeploy. DroneDeploy helps drones not particularly made for mapping, which is a giant deal to the brand new pilots who might not personal a $12,000 mapping drone.

Among the many drones supported by DroneDeploy are a few of DJI’s hottest (and never significantly 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 identify, DroneDeploy doesn’t simply restrict itself to flying robots both. The corporate’s 360 Walkthrough software program launched again in 2020 to operate 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 website.

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

DroneDeploy has a number of plans to select from, every with totally different worth factors that supply 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 laptop has terabytes of storage, you’ll doubtless 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 pictures corresponding to JPEG’s and PNG’s, orthomosaic DSMs and DTMs use giant quantities of knowledge to retain high quality and GEO referencing.

One other standout software provided by DroneDeploy is the positioning comparability to earlier surveys. Development firms extremely worth this as a result of development is well seen. Much like how engineers will layer blueprints to see how the venture 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’ll be able to click on ‘Assist’ from inside your DroneDeploy venture to talk with a DroneDeploy worker.

DroneDeploy software program delivers automated insights, corresponding to automated tree counting.

Why DroneDeploy won’t be a match for you

DroneDeploy is among the many most costly drone mapping softwares on the market, and its price ticket is just not precisely clear both.

Particular person plans begin at $329 monthly, however that’s provided that you decide to a 12 months. If you wish to use it with out the year-long dedication, you’ll pay $499 monthly. Plus, the upgraded model of the software program with extra bells and whistles will run an excellent heftier $599 monthly (that’s greater than $7,100 per 12 months).

What occurs in the event you’re not a sole proprietor or entrepreneur? When you’re on the lookout for a model in your complete staff, you’ll need to name DroneDeploy to request a demo. Whereas it’s dearer than the person plan, DroneDeploy is just not clear in regards to the precise worth — you’ll need to name to search out out, and it’ll range primarily based in your staff.

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

Pix4D: the most effective drone mapping software program in the event you’re on a tighter price range

 Pix 4D is a cloud-based mapping software program program designed for photogrammetry, which is a mode of mapping that creates pictures of land through the use of giant numbers of pictures. These pictures are then composited collectively as full-color, textured pictures.

Pix4D has been round since 2011, when it began as a by-product 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 very 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 gives subscription tiers, Pix4D enables 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 primarily based 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 heart 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 means to supply wonderful and correct orthomosaics is considerably unmatched within the area 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 permits you to 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 price range decide, 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’ll utilizing DroneDeploy, nevertheless it nonetheless received’t come low cost.

Propeller best drone mapping software construction

Propeller: The very best for development firms 

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

Why Propeller is nice

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

The drones really helpful 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 prime notch. Much like the opposite paid apps listed, Propeller gives a help name line that responds swiftly. Additionally they embody a messaging platform for help, and you may request a name if mandatory.

A Propeller Aeropoint
A Propeller Aeropoint

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

  • Elevation Distinction  
  • Street Grade  
  • Floor Space 
  • Design to Design 
  • Quantity from Lowest Level
  • Earthworks Progress
  • Elevation Historical past
  • Cross-Part Comparability
  • Evaluate to Earlier Survey 
  • Berm Verify  
  • Evaluate 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 simply a better monetary transfer in the event you solely plan on conducting a mapping mission, say, as soon as a month. For an organization that intends to make many extra maps than that, the per-map value of Propeller is probably going not financially price it.

Why Propeller won’t be a match for you

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

One other downside of this software program is that you just’ll must discover a flight planning app to execute your automated flights (propeller doesn’t provide one). The drones really helpful 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 very best 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 selection for you. Think about this software program duo to be the most effective different for many who might not need 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 (which means it runs in your arduous 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. In an effort to use WebODM, you must have a grasp on GIS. GIS is brief for Geographic Info 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 permits UAO to course of drone imagery into maps, fashions and measurements, with an accuracy greater than most platforms. 

Why WebODM won’t be a match for you

Provided that it’s an open supply platform, WebODM requires some information of coding for set up. 

WebODM’s help line is just not the identical as these different mapping engines. To get assist, you’ll must submit within the WebODM discussion board and hope somebody solutions your query.

Whereas cost-effective, these two softwares aren’t precisely essentially the most user-friendly. 

Agisoft Metashape: Nice for creating 3D fashions

Agisoft Metashape is a cloud primarily based and native imagery processing platform targeted on processing and delivering 3D fashions. Whereas this software program does provide a measurement software, 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 to name the help line in the event you run into hassle, ship an electronic mail to help, or verify the boards utilized by Agisoft’s customers

Much like Propellor within the plethora of distinctive instruments that Agisoft Metashape gives 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
  • Computerized 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 software — permitting you to take your drone imagery and create a mannequin — or pay $3,499 for the total bundle which incorporates instruments that might not be related to you as a drone pilot corresponding to 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 US, 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 each to personally decide which software program is greatest for you. 

Earlier than making a call, perceive your price range, how typically you propose on utilizing the software program, and your means to navigate and leverage the software program to your wants.

Whereas most of the software program options provided 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 submit, contact The Drone Lady right here.

Need to be taught extra about learn how to create your personal 3D map? Think about enrolling within the Drone Mapping & Modeling Fundamentals course provided by Drone Launch Academy. In it, you’ll learn to create detailed and correct 2D maps and fashions along with your drone — and finally learn how to use your drone mapping and modeling abilities to land jobs. Enroll in Drone Launch Academy’s Drone Mapping & Modeling Fundamentals course right here. Plus use coupon code DRONEGIRLMAPS to deliver the same old $399 all the way down to $249. That’s $150 financial savings!

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