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Applications of UAV(Drone) data

by Yashwant Singh

If you want to save the time and money on your surveying project, Drones can potentially help you.

If we list out the great technological success stories of the 21st century so far, Drones are among the top of the list. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are used nowadays for a wide range of commercial applications. The phenomenal rise in drone usage has led to the development of ever more sophisticated software, among which is 3D mapping software. They are used in creating stunning 3D models, large Orthographic photos, and Elevation Models too.

The use of a drone for surveying is now widespread and operational for several applications for instance – High quality DEM generation, quarry monitoring, archaeological site surveys, forest management, 3D modelling for buildings, land cover mapping, digital terrain model, monitoring and change detection, digital urban planning, orthorectification services and many more.

Drone mapping has a wide scope and potential construction, agriculture, mining, infrastructure inspection and real estate. Having a clear, accurate photograph or 3D model of your project area, complete with measurements, is advantageous in terms of decision-making.

Following are some applications of drone data.

Civil Engineering Design Mapping

Civil Engineering design requires accurate and precise topographic mapping data to ensure that design parameters reflect real-world conditions. The low altitude requirement of the drone means denser surface sampling which often results in higher accuracy than conventional ground surveys. Drone mapping can also be supplemented with conventional survey measurements on critical hard surfaces and drainage structure invert elevations when needed. Turnaround times are faster and drones can provide digital orthophotos, video and images to support planning, design and future project monitoring.

Land Planning Mapping

Land planning requires mapping information that can be relied upon and that doesn’t break the budget. With the affordable aerial drone mapping solutions, we don’t have to take chances with outdated or questionable mapping/data sources. In many cases, drones can provide a data that fits our planning budget.

Mining and Pit Operations

In mining or pit operations, worker's safety is a primary concern. When surveyors can collect accurate mapping and volumetric data from above with an aerial drone, it can dramatically reduce risk/liability by reducing or eliminating the time surveyors need to spend on the ground.

Drone-based data collection boosts productivity. Thanks to a drone’s ability to collect data from above, there is no downtime required while surveyors move around a pit. And fewer man-hours are required to produce large, accurate data sets resulting in lower costs.

GIS Base Mapping and Data Acquisition

No matter which GIS specialty you work in–forestry, asset management, environmental, agriculture, remote sensing, oil, and gas or other–aerial drone mapping can provide accurate data quickly and cost-effectively.

With an easy-to-deploy aerial mapping drone, we can capture accurate aerial imagery and transform it into 2D orthomosaics (maps) and 3D models of small- and medium-sized sites. Using an aerial drone means we can take to the skies virtually whenever we need. With low operating heights, cloud cover is rarely an issue.


Site Inspection / Construction Monitoring / As-Built Mapping

Remote site inspection, construction monitoring, and as-built mapping are now made fast, easy and efficient using aerial drone mapping and photography. Monitor construction progress with periodic mapping from start to finish of a project. Verify grading cut/fill quantities as site work progresses. Provide stakeholders with reports containing dated mapping, video and photography. Map final site improvements and provide agencies with as-built information.

Search and Rescue

Drones are able to discover the location of lost persons and unfortunate victims, especially in harsh conditions or challenging terrains. Besides locating victims, a drone can drop supplies to unreachable locations in war-torn or disaster-stricken countries. For example, a drone can be utilized to lower a walkie-talkie, GPS locator, medicines, food supplies, clothes, and water to stranded victims before rescue crews can move them to someplace else.

Precision Agriculture

Farmers and agriculturists are always looking for cheap and effective methods to regularly monitor their crops. The infrared sensors in drones can be tuned to detect crop health, enabling farmers to react and improve crop conditions locally, with inputs of fertilizer or insecticides. It also improves management and effectuates better yield of the crops.

Disaster Management

Drones provide quick means, after a natural or man-made disaster, to gather information and navigate debris and rubble to look for injured victims. Its high definition cameras, sensors, and radars give rescue teams access to a higher field of view, saving the need to spend resources on manned helicopters.  Where larger aerial vehicles would prove perilous or inefficient, drones with their small size are capable to provide a close-up view of areas.

Wildlife Monitoring

Drones have served as a deterrent to poachers. They provide unprecedented protection to animals, like elephants, rhinos, and big cats, a favorite target for poachers. With its thermal cameras and sensors, drones have the ability to operate during the night. This enables them to monitor and research on wildlife without causing any disturbance and provides insight into their patterns, behavior, and habitat.

Law Enforcement

Drones are also used for maintaining the law. They help with the surveillance of large crowds and ensure public safety. They assist in monitoring criminal and illegal activities. In fact, fire investigations, smugglers of migrants, and illegal transportation of drugs via coastlines are monitored by the border patrol with the help of drones.

Railway Corridor, Roads, and Power Line monitoring

Drones are used in monitoring the public utilities like Roads, Railways, Powerline, Canals, etc. With a close vigilance over the track, one can monitor its condition and maintain it accordingly. For a railway corridor mapping, drone survey is very helpful to provide an ultra high-resolution imagery along the corridor and later help in the implementation of the project.


Border & Coastal Security Management

It is already common knowledge that Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are taking up a significant role in the defense plans of many countries. In the past, perhaps, these robotic flying machines were used solely by advanced, rich countries, today the advancements in technology and the competitive market allow for many countries to implement drones into their defensive scheme, making them a common sight for maritime, land, and border control. An even large country must protect their borders and critical sea lanes, and India is no different – especially when it borders with Pakistan and China – not the most peaceful of borders.

Surveillance in Conservation Activities

Drone, or UAV/UAS, technology suits a myriad of conservation and environmental-protection applications, offering quick, easy, and cost-effective aerial imagery as well as sensor and monitoring capabilities. Specific applications of conservation drones include forest health monitoring, forest inventory, wildlife surveys, anti-poaching activities (such as identification and deterrence through use of drone audible alarms), reforestation, compliance monitoring, and air-quality monitoring.

In Smart Cities and Commercial Applications

Drones are becoming a necessity for smart city growth in India. Apart from household fun, drones have become a popular tool for city inspections, business advancement, and disaster relief. With built-in 3D mapping and cloud technology, drones provide cities the ability to track and record data they never could before. One large benefactor from smart city drones has been streamlined building inspections. Drone surveillance allows city planners clearer visuals over construction and development sites. Areas that were previously too hard for inspectors to access are now within reach with the help of drones.

Defense Applications

In many recent wars and even peacetime missions, the UAS has performed roles traditionally carried out by manned aircraft. UAS offers two main advantages over manned aircraft. They eliminate the risk to a pilot’s life and their aeronautical capabilities such as endurance are not constrained by human limitations. Generally, UAS are cheaper to procure and operate as compared to manned aircraft. Currently, UAS are employed by militaries around the world for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, electronic warfare and strike missions. In future, they could be employed for resupply, combat search and rescue, aerial refueling and air combat. 


For Swachh Bharat and Medical Applications

local municipal authorities and police in several parts of India are deploying drones for the vigilance under ' Swachh Bharat Abhiyan' a project run by Government of India for a clean India mission. Drones are deployed to prevent the pollution of water bodies in urban and rural areas as well. Drones are proved of a vital use in making the availability of emergency medicines to remote areas and thus helpful in saving lives. Drones could also deliver expensive and rarely used drugs, such as antivenin for snake bites, as well as help to meet the demand for blood products in the pre-hospital setting quickly and inexpensively.

Tackling City & Highway Crimes

Drones are used by local police in many countries now a day to keep a sharp vision of the criminal activities in densely populated, rural, tourist spots and many more places. Durban police in South Africa is going to use drones during holidays, focusing on beaches and roads, as part of the city’s massive security crackdown on crime. Other measures include police blockades and raids on suspects, including hijackers and armed robbers, but will also include anyone who breaks the city’s by-laws. 

Emergency Communications in Remote Areas.

Humanitarian organizations across the world have been piloting unmanned aircraft programs for a variety of uses, including delivering resources to hard-to-reach areas such as war zones and disaster areas. Current deployments of UAVs and recent developments in drone technology give us a glimpse into what could become the new normal in disaster management and recovery. One of the primary uses for unmanned aircraft in disaster relief is in mapping and surveying disaster areas to determine which areas have the highest need of infrastructure repair or where rescue operations are most essential. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the Florida Air National Guard repurposed combat drones to perform aerial surveys of the disaster area, allowing them to assess which areas were in need of the most help.

Weather Studies

Ramanathan of Scripps Institution of Oceanography discovered something important when he launched one of the largest experiments to study air pollution with regular aircraft. “What I found was how expensive it was,” he says. So, about 10 years ago, his team flew three lightweight fixed-wing craft—each about 25 kg—into a massive brown cloud of air pollution floating over the Indian Ocean. The drones flew in a formation like three points in a moving vertical line, spanning between 0.5 and 3 km above the ocean. The drones effectively sliced through three different layers of the cloud, separated by only their altitude. “That would be very dangerous for pilots,” Ramanathan says. With this approach, Ramanathan and his team showed that black carbon was the second-largest contributor to global warming behind carbon dioxide. Same as above example, people around the globe are using drones in environmental studies.



Drone shots are everywhere – there's barely a TV programme or news report that doesn't feature these elegant shots from the sky and with drones now cheaply available for amateur film-makers too. Drones - or unmanned aerial systems (UASs) - have become one of the must-have camera enhancements for many productions. They bring the possibility of spectacular aerial filming down to a price that is far more affordable than hiring a helicopter. They also allow filming in places that are inaccessible to helicopters. It is possible to take a drone to mountain tops, to the rainforest, and across the water. The audience can be placed where they could never travel themselves.

Traffic management

Switzerland is on the cusp of becoming the first country to formally integrate drones into the air traffic management system that controls its airspace. A similar, though more modest, model in the US called Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) has been developed by NASA. Managing and tracking small drones is key to opening the commercial market for drone services. This will be a new revolution in air traffic management system and in future, we could see a lot of unmanned flying machines roaming over the city.

Rapid Transit in cities

From pod cars and monorails to drones and flying taxis, the future of urban transit is about to arrive. Driven by the issue of terrestrial traffic in the wake of rapid and ongoing urbanization across the world, these technologies present some of the most innovative and exciting developments for city-dwellers everywhere. Following are the future of public transport and are the drones that are being tested and are being used to some extent in different countries SkyTran Self-Driving Monorail, Tel Aviv and Lagos, Airbus Flying Taxis, Drone Superhighway, Bao’an China, Metrino PRT, New Delhi

Submarine communication cables

Without undersea cables, a bank in Asian countries couldn't send money to Saudi Arabia to pay for oil. U.S. military leaders would struggle to communicate with troops fighting extremists in Afghanistan and the Middle East. A student in Europe wouldn't be able to Skype his parents in the United States. Financial transactions worth vast sums of money are transmitted over the wires every day and the network also carries most of the communications between the US and Europe and elsewhere around the world. These internet cables are under the supervision and security of underwater drones. 



Belize has long struggled to control illegal fishing both in its waters and by vessels flagged to its country. In March 2014, the European Union suspended all seafood imports from Belize, saying the country had not acted forcefully enough to prevent illegal fishing, also known as pirate fishing. Starting in 2014, WCS, the government of Belize, and U.S.-based nonprofits Conservation Drones began a series of tests to survey the country's waters with unmanned aerial vehicles, to look for illegal fishing and other illicit activity, such as drug trafficking. The coastline of Belize is sculpted with many inlets and mangrove forests, which pirates can take advantage of. But now officials can use the drones to scout out treacherous territory ahead. The devices are small and quiet enough that they usually avoid detection. Drones are bet to stop illegal fishing.

Pipeline Survey

Drones are being used increasingly by pipeline companies to help with everything from surveying and mapping during the route planning process, through to right-of-way monitoring once pipelines are operational. With each of these surveys, the typical information provided is topography, existing utilities, the location of property boundaries, staking the construction footprint for construction, measuring newly installed pipeline and keeping track of materials during construction



69 out of the 347 public safety agencies that purchased drones between 2009 and early 2017 were fire departments. The primary use-case here is obvious: Having a drone at your disposal upon arrival at a life-threatening situation not only allows for people to stay out of harm's way but from an extremely beneficial vantage point. It's no surprise that law enforcement is keen on UAVs, as well, as they seem to reduce risk and increase useful data that can aid in developing a more informed strategy. 

SATPALDA is a privately owned company and a leading provider of satellite imagery and GeoSpatial services to the user community. Established in 2002, SATPALDA has successfully completed wide range of photogrammetric and Remote Sensing Projects.

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