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Drone Mapping: The Ultimate Guide For Beginners

Drone Mapping: The Ultimate Guide For Beginners

Drones are used for different purposes such as videography, search and rescue, filmmaking, mapping, fishing, and photography. Due to technological advancement, you can now conduct an aerial survey with your drone; this improvement makes things easier for surveyors.

Drone Mapping is an aerial survey carried out by a drone. To have a clearer understanding and use of drones in land survey and mapping, you will have to use drone mapping software. Drone mapping can be used for construction, mining, real estate, agriculture, and forestry activities. 

Before drone mapping, you could only use a manned aircraft or spy satellite to get an aerial photogrammetric map of high resolution and accuracy. However, technological advancements in drones have made it possible for you to access high-quality aerial maps. Let us learn more about drone mapping.

drone farm

What Is Drone Mapping?

Drone Mapping is an aerial survey conducted by a drone and special cameras, including multispectral, LIDAR, RGB, or thermal sensors. Research has proven that drone mapping enables highly accurate data collection and is 90% faster than manual use. It is also very safe, and there is no need to walk over dangerous terrain during mapping.

Drone mapping data can be processed using any drone mapping software that the user must have purchased. This software will help create a range of assets like 2D maps, 3D models, and digital elevation models. These assets can extract valuable information like volumetric calculations and accurate measurements.

There are several types of drone mapping, but the most common two are LiDAR and photogrammetry. LiDAR drone mapping works by sending light pulses to the earth's surface and measuring its time to reflect. It is effective for the detection of small objects like power lines during mapping.

Photogrammetry drone mapping involves the recreation of survey areas by capturing high-resolution photographs. The images captured are then processed and stitched together with sophisticated software that creates geo-referenced, realistic, and measurable 3D models and 2D maps.

There are other types of drone mapping, such as drone thermal mapping and multispectral mapping. Drone mapping has become very important and valuable in that it is used for construction and infrastructure, roof inspection, public safety, emergency management, agriculture, mining, and land survey.

Best Drone Mapping Software

If you want to engage in drone mapping, aside from getting a good drone, you will have to have one of the best drone mapping software. Without drone mapping software, it would be impossible to access the data collected during the mapping. Below are some of the best drone mapping software.

Drone Deploy

Drone Deploy is regarded as one of the best drone mapping software because it has high-tech capabilities and features. This software allows you to view your location at any time with the help of its GPS feature; this ability allows you to see where the drone is exactly and know when to change or reposition the camera in the right direction.


Pix4D is another excellent drone mapping software; it is very expensive and has a digital surface and terrain model. This software operates by taking photographs of the areas it is flying over and uses a mathematical algorithm to lay out an image. Images produced can be edited with any photo editing software; however, some can modify or crop the image.

Open Drone Map

Open Drone Map is a powerful software platform that allows drone users to create, manage, and preview their drone map. It was designed for beginners and advanced remote control enthusiasts that desire to create an aerial photo map of any area without spending too much money. It uses digital surface models, live stream FPV, and is also expensive.

Agisoft Metashape 3D Software

Agisoft Metashape 3D Software is one of the best drone mapping software for users interested in drone photography but do not desire to spend a lot of money purchasing a drone. This software makes it easy to produce high-quality maps and models with high resolutions. It has customizable vegetation index calculation and aerial and oblique imagery support.

scanning drone green

Free Drone Mapping Software

There are different drone mapping software, but most times, you will have to pay a lot of money to be able to use them. Not everyone can afford to purchase expensive drone mapping software, so below is a list of some of the best free drone mapping software you can get.


PrecisionMapper was developed by PrecisionHawk, and it is free software; this was done to promote innovation in the community. This software is good mapping software that processes aerial images and can be used to embed GPS information. You can also use it to stitch a map together in either 2D or 3D; it is free to use for up to 60 surveys in a year.


DJI TERRA is a common and excellent DJI mapping software developed by the DJI company and has different planning options. This mapping software cannot be used with any drone; it has to be a DJI drone, specifically the DJI Phantom 4 series. With this software, you can plan various flight paths and draw specific regions on a flight map.


MicMac is another free mapping software created by the French National Geographic Institute; it has sophisticated features and can be used to generate 3D models and orthographic images. You can also survey large plots of land and scan small objects with this software. MicMac has a website that provides several detailed tutorials that help you understand how to use the software correctly.

How Much Does Drone Mapping Cost?

To engage in drone mapping, you should consider the cost. For drone mapping, you will need drone mapping software; however, if you want advanced software, you will have to pay for it. Most of the advanced drone mapping software used for professional drone mapping is very expensive.

The first thing you need to get for drone mapping is a drone; there are some features that the drone must possess. A drone used for drone mapping must have a high-quality camera, a good GPS, and be insured.

To get an accurate drone for drone mapping, you can budget between $1000 and $50,000.After getting a good drone, you will need drone mapping software; knowing which software to get might be confusing, but there are three main things to look out for.

The features are data processing, flight planning, and quality reporting. You must set aside $2000 and up for a drone mapping subscription, depending on the type of software you want.

How Do I Start Drone Mapping?

To start drone mapping, you will have to get the materials required: a drone, drone mapping software, and insurance. However, you cannot start drone mapping once you have these materials. You must learn how to operate a drone, not just the basics, but to become a commercial drone pilot.

You can sign up for courses on drone mapping; these classes will help you understand all about drone mapping and the processes involved. Once you are fully ready and have gotten your drone and drone mapping software, the next thing to determine the location of your flight, then you can start flying and capturing your images.

Final Thoughts

As someone interested in drone mapping, it is necessary that you understand the basics and nitty-gritty of this activity. It would be best if you also got the right equipment; some drones are suitable for drone mapping that you can get, like DJI Terra, DJI Phantom 4 RTK, and WingtraOne. As long as you have the right drone and drone mapping software and have gone through training, drone mapping will be easy.