October 24, 2019

Drone vs Traditional Survey Methods: A Guide for Surveyors

Drone Survey and  Traditional Survey

Surveying has always been an essential component of sectors like agriculture, mining, urban planning, irrigation, and infrastructure development. When commercial drones were first introduced, the geospatial industry immediately accepted them. These drones had advanced technology, different types of sensors, as well as high-resolution cameras. Surveyors and GIS Professionals saw great potential in them and started using them as flying data collection devices. This led to a comparison between drone vs traditional survey methods. Let’s discuss some major differences between drone surveys and traditional surveys.

What is Drone Survey Method?

A drone survey is a method that is used to collect sufficient data for deep analysis and prolonged decision making with the help of drone technology. As the use of drone survey is becoming more popular in different sectors, the traditional survey techniques are less in use now. We called drone surveys as a disruptive technology.

Disruptive technology or disruptive innovation is the one that changes the way a particular service was used in previous years. The end results achieved through this disruptive technology are more economical in terms of finances, safety, and time.

drone survey

What are Traditional Survey Methods?

Traditional survey methods are the ones that are in use for the past many years to collect information for surveys.

Some of the traditional survey methods are:

  1. Scaffolding

Scaffolding provides a work platform to perform inspection via ladders and conduct an unhindered survey of a particular place or asset. This method was idealistic because project decision-makers used to get the opportunity to access the place or asset as many times as needed.

There are several safety concerns that come with scaffolding. Some of the major ones are the risk of dropped objects to lower levels, risk of load-bearing equipment failure, and risk of equipment or tools fallen from height.


  1. Rope Access Inspection

Rope Access Inspection is a traditional survey method that the IRATA qualified rope access technicians perform. IRATA is a qualification body that governs a person’s certification based on his experience.

Rope Access Inspection is usually considered as a high-level survey method because it is less invasive than other traditional methods. However, there is a great risk of dropped objects and loss of life associated with this method. One minor mistake in handling the rope can cause life-threatening consequences.

rope survey

  1. MEWP Hire

MEWP (Mobile Elevating Work Platforms) is an inspection method that provides unrivaled access to difficult areas. Both of the above-mentioned traditional survey methods have their own pros and cons but MEWP can be highly beneficial if the conditions are appropriate. However, this method is expensive and restrictive for common use.

Although MEWP is a great method to access hard-to-reach areas, it requires trained operators which adds to the cost and often tips over if handled incorrectly. Alongside human error, objects as well as human falls are also possible in this method.

mewp - drone vs traditional survey

Drone Survey vs Traditional Survey: Why Drones are Better

  1. Less Risk

Drone survey allows autonomous flights and eliminates risks of carrying heavy equipment or heavy injuries. You just need to push a button to perform the entire survey of a site and get a complete aerial mapping. In addition, the drone survey is the only method available where if a fault occurs resulting in complete equipment failure, there is no risk of fatality and injury.

  1. Cost-Effective and Saves Time

A survey grade drone can map a 100 HA site in 50-120 minutes without even needing a surveyor. It can cover more ground in less time thus saving a lot of time and cost as compared to other traditional surveying methods.

  1. Access Remote Locations

Drones actually got popular because of the fact that they can easily survey locations that are inaccessible by workers and vehicles. Surveying flooded areas, long roads, and congested city landscapes can easily be done with the help of drone technology.

drone survey mehods

  1. Highly Detailed Images

Drone roof surveys produce highly detailed images and maps. This allows the roof surveyors to navigate and analyze any location in fine detail to remove any specific fault or remedial requirement.

  1. Improved Data Results

Drones do not possess any limitations in terms of a particular surrounding or an idealistic environment. They can provide detailed and live feedback to the connected devices, recorded SD cards, or to the ground location. Thus, the outputs generated from drone building surveys provide great data results for further remote analysis and planning.

Final Words

Drone vs traditional survey has always been a popular topic of discussion since the drones introduced. Both methods have their own pros and cons but drone surveys have made their place by providing cost-effective solutions to different sectors. Drones have become a go-to option for most of the surveyors because of the immense benefits they offer. The rapid growth of drone technology indicates its market demand and value in many sectors of the business.

So, if you have any questions related to drone surveys London, feel free to contact HeliDrone Surveys.

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