dronedeploy dji phantom

The gear you need for a drone mapping project is surprisingly cheap

Are you looking into using drones for mapping? You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on your setup.

84% of drone mapping is occurring on drone models that cost $1500 or less, according to a report released today by drone mapping software company DroneDeploy.

dronedeploy drones mapping
Courtesy of DroneDeploy

Most of the maps created on DroneDeploy software are made using DJI drones; the most commonly used drone to utilize DroneDeploy’s software is the $1,199 Phantom 4. 80% of maps are made on either a Phantom or $999 Mavic drone.”Only five months after launch, the DJI Phantom 4 dethroned the DJI Phantom 3 Pro as the most commonly used drone for mapping, and as of mid-March, the Mavic and Phantom 4 Pro were racing neck and neck as they take aim to replace the Phantom 4,” according to DroneDeploy’s report.

The Phantom 4 is likely an appealing choice — a sensor on the front that is able to detect and avoid obstacles makes mapping significantly safer.

And no longer is tons of capital necessary to set up a mapping business. It’s not necessary to drop thousands of dollars on a drone; all of DJIs drones are priced at a fairly accessible level to entrepreneurs, and the industry is seeing an uptick in drone-mapping jobs.

dronedeploy drones mapping
Courtesy of DroneDeploy

It also illustrates how DJI continues to dominate the hardware side of the drone industry.  Layoffs have struck at many of the commercial drone makers including 3D Robotics, GoPro, Parrot, Autel, and most recently Intel-funded Yuneec, which had perhaps been the biggest contender for battling DJI.

As of mid-March, more than 37,500 people had passed the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107, which is the authorization needed for commercial drone operators to receive a remote pilot certificate. The DroneDeploy app, one of the most common apps for aerial mapping projects, has been installed more than 22,000 times.

Other mapping apps that are widely used include San Francisco-startup Skycatch, 3D Robotics’ SiteScan app and Pix4D.

As drones improve on flight time, more maps are being made on multirotors, such as quadcopters and octocopters.dronedeploy drones mapping

Fixed wing drones account for just 3% of its users, a number that has been declining. Most fixed-wing use cases are in areas where long-range and linear flights are happening, such as oil and gas applications.

But despite the low financial barrier to entry in starting a drone mapping business, some say that simply flying a drone and getting a map or 3D model isn’t enough. Customers don’t care about your drone or how you obtained the data — they simply want the data, and they want it interpreted.

Icarus Aerials’ Lewis Butler and Trevor Duke’s online course on mapping and 3D modelling aims to help with some of that, discussing how to execute a proper structure scan, use the hardware, software and more.

“2017 will be the biggest year for the commercial drone industry to data,” said DroneDeploy CEO Mike Winn. “We can expect to see a dramatic shift in operations as larger companies invest in drone technology and the drone ecosystem blossoms with the introduction of key new hardware and software partners.”

One thought on “The gear you need for a drone mapping project is surprisingly cheap”

  1. The true power required aside from a good camera (which almost all drones have) is the specialized software to bring the images to life. Drone deploy is in a great spot of this industry.

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