Drones are changing our perspectives of the world. They can monitor the planet, yet they do not have the fuel or manpower requirements of conventional image-gathering aircraft. These remote-controlled flying cameras can go nearly anywhere and collect layers of data that can be used to better business processes or our quality of life.

The images gathered from drones have little practical value on their own, but when used in conjunction with powerful analytical software, they develop new meaning. Since drone technology is more available to the common consumer, certain commercial applications have been developed that show promise to improve several industries.

Throughout the course of this article, different applications of drone technology will be examined. There will be a focus on the use of a Geographic Information System (GIS) with drone technology in different professional settings. The information presented will give you an understanding of the significance that this intersection has had on the industry and provide you with ideas on how to apply it in your own business or research.

Drone Technology and GIS

People have been using drones for years. Initially, it was primarily used for military purposes. Since the introduction of commercial drones, there has been an expansion in the application of this technology in our daily lives and our work. Drones are not equipped with all types of cameras and measuring tools; people need to outfit them to their specific use, and the same is true for the application of GIS to drones.

A GIS is a specially designed application that collects and classifies geographical and spatial information. After an individual goes through the gathered data and manually processes it, one can produce images with reference points that mark different features in a field, for instance. Such software has been used to process satellite images and images gathered by specialized landscaping planes. There are other programs better designed for actual image processing, but some GIS suites have minimal capabilities. Since drones can carry cameras, even multiple at the same time, this allowed for the integration of drone imagery into GIS.

Conventional methods of surveying a piece of land took many work hours and a lot of manpower. Since drones are remote controlled and provide an easier way to capture images,  they offer an extremely cost-efficient alternative to surveying land over conventional methods and certified land surveyors.

The Applications

Agriculture is one of the many industries where drones are being implemented. Coupled with precision agronomics, the new technology provides farmers with a perspective on their crops like never before. With drones, farmers can perform regular inspection of their field, every day if they want to, and detect problematic spots. This gives them a chance to intervene early to save their crops and increase their yield.

The use of drones for emergency services is still in its infancy. One student from the Netherlands developed a prototype first-aid carrier that could deploy supplies to victims. These drones can be sent ahead of emergency services to survey situations so they know what they need to do once they arrive.

Drone technology is currently at its pinnacle in the field of geospatial data. The innovation comes from the combination of GPS navigation, GIS, and drone technology. With different types of measuring devices, drones can survey land in greater detail than was previously possible. The data is collected and processed at an incredible speed and can be viewed within seconds. Drone cameras can also capture high-resolution images at a much lower cost in comparison to satellite images. This gives surveyors additional clarity when interpreting data.

Drone Mapping Software

Drones that use a GIS are not common, and they require professionals to collect the images and arrange their representation. The best option is to hire someone to do the surveying for you. Companies like Identified Technologies offer easy-to-use solutions for complex surveying tasks.

Software with drone capabilities can produce detailed analytical images that display everything from the volume of earth in a given area to the progress of work that was planned in comparison to what was achieved. Learning to use these programs can take some time and effort, so it is best to find the right help. Otherwise, there is nothing stopping you from getting updated maps of your farm or construction site on a daily basis. The potential benefits can be far greater than the primary investment.

The Limitations

There are not many limitations to drones for the aforementioned reasons. However, there are some practical problems that should be mentioned. Each duration of each data collection trip is dependent on the battery life and flight time of a drone. Drones need to be recharged often, and their battery life is not that long. They are also prone to physical damage, including sudden changes in the weather. Their storage size and the different measuring apparatuses are limiting factors. Even though a drone can collect detailed images, you need to download the data often, and this can be time-consuming.

There are also many privacy issues that arise due to a drone’s ability to fly over almost anything. Certainly, we will see more regulations on the use of drone technology for personal uses, but if you have an interest in surveying your land, there is no one who can limit you.

Conclusion

The combination of drone technology, GIS, and GPS are revolutionizing our surveying capabilities. Through them, we have a new perspective of Earth that can be regularly accessed with a simple maneuver of your fingers. Due to the conveniences that drones give to some industries, they are being used more. We can expect that they will replace an entire army of surveyors. The fields of application for drone technology would not be possible without the advancements in GIS and GPS technology. This revolution must be seen as a mixture of different factors and advancements and not just the product of drone use.

The limitations that exist are linked with technology. As computers and machines advance, drones will continue to be innovated and optimized. Though there are concerns that drones and automation can take over human labour, we can do our best to take a balanced approach to our use of technology.