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Drone Photogrammetry

Can Drone Photogrammetry Replace Traditional Ground Surveying Techniques?

Drone photogrammetry is changing the traditional surveying industry. Image photogrammetry modeling has become a new option. Geospatial drones are no longer gadgets but professional equipment. So, is a photogrammetry drone suitable for your survey? business? Can drone photogrammetry replace traditional ground surveying techniques?

What is aerial photogrammetry?

Drone photogrammetry has become an important technology in the field of modern surveying and mapping. It uses drones equipped with high-definition cameras to obtain ground images and processes them with professional software to obtain images of terrain, buildings and other features. High-precision 3D model.

Drone photogrammetry involves taking multiple aerial images of a feature and using them to create a digital, high-resolution 2D or 3D model from which accurate measurements can be inferred.

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Ground-based imagery taken by drones will be done with the help of specialized mapping software, which looks for common features in the images and uses them to stitch the photos together in a way that provides an accurate representation of the space.

When conducting drone aerial photogrammetry, you need still images from multiple angles to ensure accuracy.

Types of aerial photogrammetry

Metric photogrammetry: This method uses coordinate points on features to visualize objects with near-accurate measurements. A map can then be constructed based on where the coordinates are relative to each other. These coordinates are usually set physically through so-called ground control points.

Interpretive Photogrammetry: Rather than specific coordinates, interpretive photogrammetry takes photos and adds terrain by looking at indicators such as shapes, shading, and patterns present in the image (rather than coordinates).

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Each style of photogrammetry can be used for land surveying, depending on the specifics of the job and the attention to detail required. But overall, metric photogrammetry is the more accurate of the two and is recommended for surveying work that requires centimeter-level accuracy. Both styles rely on specialized mapping software to stitch images into photogrammetric maps.

The value of drone photogrammetry

Efficiency and speed

Drone photogrammetry can cover large areas of land in a short period of time, especially in areas with complex terrain or inaccessible areas, such as mountains and wetlands. In comparison, traditional ground surveying may require more time and manpower.

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On large-scale projects, drone photogrammetry is often less expensive than traditional ground surveying because it reduces labor input and the time required.


Modern drone photogrammetry technology can achieve very high accuracy, but this depends on the equipment used, flight altitude, image processing software and other factors. For some applications requiring extremely high accuracy, traditional ground surveying technologies (such as total stations, GNSS, etc.) may still be the first choice.


Drones can easily fly over areas that are difficult to reach on foot, whereas traditional ground surveys can be limited by terrain.

Type of data

Drones can not only provide high-resolution two-dimensional images, but also generate three-dimensional models, digital elevation models (DEM), digital surface models (DSM), and orthophotos. Traditional measurement methods focus more on precise measurement of points, lines and surfaces.


In hazardous or unstable environments, using drones for surveying can reduce risks to personnel.

Difficulties in drone photogrammetry

Regulatory restrictions

The use of drones may be restricted by local regulations, such as flight height, flight area, privacy protection, etc., which may affect the application of drone photogrammetry.

Skills requirement

Drone photogrammetry requires operators to have certain technical knowledge, including drone flight control, photography skills and post-image processing.

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In general, drone photogrammetry can replace traditional ground surveying technology in many cases, especially in situations where large-scale high-resolution geographic information needs to be quickly obtained. However, for some special application scenarios, such as engineering measurements that require extremely high precision, traditional ground measurement technology is still indispensable.

In fact, drone photogrammetry and traditional ground measurement technology are often complementary, and their combined use can bring into play their respective advantages and improve the efficiency and quality of measurement.

Why choose Autel?

Autel RTK drone has precise RTK accuracy and centimeter-level positioning system to ensure data accuracy. Autel RTK drones include EVO II Pro RTK V3, EVO II 640T RTK V3. Combined with a powerful load of photogrammetric 1-inch cameras/thermal cameras, you have the ideal setup for land surveyors.

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