At Leslie Drones, we have seen many clients who have hired cheaper drone surveying services without experience, only to end up with unreliable data and costly mistakes. In many cases, these clients end up spending double to fix the issues caused by inexperienced drone surveying companies.
That’s why we emphasise the importance of choosing an experienced and reliable provider.
In this article, we’ll share our expertise and discuss 10 mistakes to avoid during your drone surveying project, helping you to achieve accurate and cost-effective results.
Mistake 1: Inadequate Planning
Skipping pre-flight checks
Before every flight, make sure to perform a thorough pre-flight check. This includes checking the drone’s battery, motors, propellers, and camera settings. Skipping this crucial step may result in technical issues during your survey and lead to inaccurate data or even equipment failure.
Not understanding regulations and legal requirements
It’s essential to be familiar with the drone regulations and legal requirements in your area. This includes obtaining necessary permits, following flight restrictions, and respecting privacy laws. Neglecting these regulations may result in fines or other legal consequences.
Mistake 2: Inappropriate Equipment
Selecting the wrong drone
Choosing the right drone for your surveying project is crucial. Factors to consider include:
- Payload capacity: Different drones can carry varying amounts of payload, which impacts the type of sensors and cameras they can support. Make sure your drone can accommodate the necessary equipment for your survey.
- Flight time: The longer the flight time, the more extensive the survey area you can cover in a single flight. However, longer flight times may require larger batteries, which can increase the drone’s weight and reduce payload capacity. Find a balance that suits your project requirements.
- Type of camera: Different survey projects may require different types of cameras, such as RGB, multispectral, or LiDAR. Ensure that your drone is compatible with the camera type needed for your specific survey.
- Stability and GPS accuracy: A stable drone with accurate GPS positioning is essential for precise survey data. Look for drones with advanced stabilization systems and high-quality GPS modules.
- Weather resistance: Some drones are better suited to handle adverse weather conditions, such as strong winds or light rain. If you anticipate working in challenging environments, choose a drone with appropriate weather resistance.
By carefully considering these factors, you can select a drone that meets your specific project needs and provides the necessary data quality.
Insufficient battery life and spares
Battery life is a critical factor in drone surveying. Running out of battery mid-flight can lead to incomplete data and wasted time. To ensure you have sufficient battery capacity:
- Calculate flight time requirements: Estimate the total flight time needed to cover your entire survey area, taking into account the drone’s speed, altitude, and required overlap between images.
- Choose batteries with adequate capacity: Select batteries that provide enough flight time to cover your survey area, while also considering the drone’s payload capacity and overall weight.
- Monitor battery health: Regularly check your batteries’ health and replace them if they show signs of degradation. This will help ensure consistent flight times and minimize the risk of unexpected power loss.
- Carry spare batteries: Always carry spare batteries as a backup, especially when working in remote locations or on large survey sites. This allows you to quickly swap batteries and resume your survey without significant downtime.
By paying close attention to your drone’s battery life and carrying spares, you can minimize disruptions and ensure a smooth, efficient surveying process.
Mistake 3: Ignoring Weather Conditions
Weather conditions can significantly affect the quality of your drone survey. To ensure the best results, consider the following factors:
- High winds: Strong winds can make it challenging to control your drone, leading to unstable flight paths and blurry images. If possible, schedule your survey for a day with calm winds or use a drone designed to handle windy conditions.
- Rain: Rain can damage your drone’s electronics and negatively impact image quality. It’s best to avoid flying in rainy conditions, but if it’s unavoidable, consider using a waterproof drone or adding protective covers to your equipment.
- Fog: Flying in foggy conditions can obstruct your drone’s camera, resulting in poor image quality. Additionally, fog can affect your drone’s GPS signal, leading to inaccurate positioning. If fog is expected, postpone your survey or wait until visibility improves.
- Temperature extremes: Extremely hot or cold temperatures can impact your drone’s battery life and overall performance. Be aware of your drone’s operating temperature range and avoid conducting surveys in extreme conditions.
By closely monitoring weather conditions and adjusting your plans accordingly, you can minimize the impact of adverse weather on your drone survey.
Mistake 4: Poor Flight Path Planning
A well-planned flight path is essential for accurate data collection. To optimize your flight path, consider the following factors:
- Altitude: The altitude at which you fly your drone affects the resolution and accuracy of your images. Flying too high can result in low-resolution images, while flying too low may cause issues with image overlap. Determine the optimal altitude for your project based on your camera’s specifications and the required resolution.
- Overlap: Ensure sufficient overlap between images to allow for accurate data stitching during post-processing. Typically, a 60-80% overlap is recommended for most surveying projects. Adjust your flight path and drone speed to achieve the desired overlap.
- Waypoints: Setting waypoints for your drone’s flight path can help ensure comprehensive coverage of your survey area. Plan your waypoints in a grid pattern to efficiently cover the entire site and minimize gaps in the data.
- Obstacles: Be aware of any obstacles in your survey area, such as buildings, trees, or power lines. Adjust your flight path to avoid these obstacles and ensure the safety of your drone.
- Flight path automation: Use flight planning software to create an automated flight path, which can help you achieve consistent overlap, altitude, and coverage. This also frees you up to focus on monitoring your drone’s progress and ensuring a safe flight.
By carefully planning your flight path, you can ensure comprehensive coverage of your survey area and maximize the accuracy of your data.
Mistake 7: Not Verifying Your Data
Before making critical decisions based on your survey results, always verify your data to ensure accuracy and reliability. Some methods for verifying your data include:
- Ground control points (GCPs): GCPs are marked points on the ground with known coordinates, which are used to improve the accuracy of your drone survey. By comparing your drone data with GCP coordinates, you can assess and correct any discrepancies.
- Traditional survey methods: Cross-check your drone data with measurements obtained through traditional survey methods, such as total stations or GPS units. This can help identify any errors or inconsistencies in your drone survey data.
- Data consistency: Check for consistency in your data by looking for irregularities, such as sudden elevation changes or gaps in coverage. Inconsistencies may indicate issues with your flight path, camera settings, or data processing.
By verifying your data, you can have greater confidence in the accuracy and reliability of your survey results, ultimately leading to better decision-making.
Mistake 8: Skipping the Calibration Process
Calibration is essential for accurate data collection. Skipping this step can lead to errors in measurements and poor image quality. To ensure proper calibration:
- Calibrate regularly: Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for calibration frequency, as well as any time you notice a decline in data quality or after a significant impact, such as a crash.
- Use calibration tools: Utilize the calibration tools provided by the manufacturer or third-party software to ensure accurate calibration of your drone’s sensors and camera.
- Environmental factors: Be aware of environmental factors that can impact calibration, such as temperature changes or magnetic interference. Conduct calibration in a controlled environment whenever possible.
- Document calibration: Keep a record of your calibration activities, including dates, conditions, and any adjustments made. This documentation can help you track the performance of your equipment and identify any recurring issues.
Mistake 9: Neglecting Safety Precautions
Safety should always be a priority when conducting drone surveys. To ensure a safe and successful survey:
- Maintain line of sight: Keep your drone in sight at all times during the survey to monitor its progress and ensure a safe flight.
- Set appropriate flight boundaries: Establish and adhere to predefined flight boundaries, such as altitude limits and no-fly zones, to prevent your drone from entering restricted areas or colliding with obstacles.
- Emergency plan: Develop an emergency plan that outlines the steps to take in the event of a drone malfunction or loss of control. This may include procedures for landing the drone safely or notifying the appropriate authorities.
- Equipment maintenance: Regularly inspect and maintain your drone and its components, such as batteries, propellers, and sensors, to ensure optimal performance and minimize the risk of accidents.
- Operator training: Make sure the drone operator is well-trained and familiar with the drone’s operation, flight planning, and safety procedures.
By following these safety guidelines, you can minimize the risk of accidents or damage to your equipment, ensuring a successful drone survey.
Mistake 10: Inadequate Training
Operating a drone for surveying requires specialized skills and knowledge. Inadequate training can lead to mistakes, poor-quality data, and even accidents. To ensure proper training, consider the following:
- Manufacturer-provided training: Many drone manufacturers offer training programs for their specific models. These programs can help you become familiar with the drone’s features, capabilities, and best practices for operation.
- Industry-specific training: Look for training programs that focus on drone surveying techniques in your specific industry, such as construction, agriculture, or environmental monitoring. This will ensure that you are well-versed in the relevant data collection and analysis methods.
- Certifications: Obtaining certifications, such as the FAA’s Part 107 certification in the United States, demonstrates your knowledge and competency in drone operation and safety regulations.
- Continuous learning: Stay updated on the latest drone technologies, software, and industry best practices by attending workshops, conferences, and webinars. This will help you stay current in the rapidly evolving field of drone surveying.
- Hands-on practice: Regularly practice flying your drone and conducting surveys to hone your skills and become more comfortable with the equipment and processes.
Drone surveying offers numerous advantages over traditional methods, but it’s crucial to avoid common mistakes to ensure accurate and reliable results. By following the guidelines outlined in this article and investing in proper training and equipment, you can maximize the benefits of your drone surveying project.
With careful planning, attention to detail, and a commitment to safety and accuracy, you’ll be well-equipped to conduct successful drone surveys and make informed decisions based on the data collected.
- What are ground control points, and why are they important for drone surveying? Ground control points (GCPs) are marked points on the ground with known coordinates, used to improve the accuracy of drone survey data. By comparing drone data with GCP coordinates, any discrepancies can be identified and corrected.
- How can I ensure sufficient overlap between images in a drone survey? To achieve sufficient overlap, typically 60-80%, adjust your drone’s flight path, altitude, and speed. Using flight planning software can help automate the process and maintain consistent overlap throughout the survey.
- How often should I calibrate my drone’s sensors and camera? Calibration frequency depends on the manufacturer’s guidelines and your specific equipment. However, it is generally a good idea to calibrate any time you notice a decline in data quality or after a significant impact, such as a crash.
- What safety precautions should I take during a drone survey? Maintain line of sight, set appropriate flight boundaries, develop an emergency plan, regularly inspect and maintain your equipment, and ensure that the drone operator is well-trained in drone operation, flight planning, and safety procedures.