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What is 4D Drone Mapping and how does it work? | Hammer Missions

Updated: Feb 2

4D drone mapping

picture credit: Safe & Sound Security


Drones are a means to understand the physical world. For us to continue to understand the physical world, we need to map our environment so that we can build new structures and create new developments. Other times, we need to inspect and possibly adapt what is already there, in both these cases there is one constant...change!

In this article, we will be looking at the concept of 4D drone mapping, what it means, and why we need it. 💡

Why need 4D drone mapping?

Everything starts with the why - so, why do we need 4D drone mapping?

As we build new physical structures, the job site changes over time. Once these changes have been made, or more precisely, the construction is complete, the built structures are subject to wear and tear.

We need a way to track these changes and updates, both during build and post-build and ideally in 3D as we engage with the physical world in 3D. Plus, we also need to track these changes over time.

Tracking these 3D changes over time, makes both our physical and digital world 4D.

Enter Drone Mapping

Drones are a safe and cost-effective way to capture the physical world.

With your feet firmly on the ground, you can map, inspect, and 3D model reality by creating a digital snapshot of it.

This digital snapshot could be a 2D map or a 3D model depending on your specific use-case requirements.

3D Model of Ordnance Survey HQ | Hammer Missions
3D Model of Ordnance Survey HQ created using Hammer Missions

Drones and 4D

What makes drones really powerful is not the drone, but the data. Especially high-quality data of the same site over time.

With cost-effective drone hardware and cloud-powered drone software, like Hammer Missions, it is now possible to create a 3D model, or digital twin, of the site or development.

Moreover, this process can be repeated over and over again. 🔁

Not only can you capture many models of the same site or development, but you can also easily jump back and forth between the latest and a past model of the same site for comparison.

Below are some 3D models of The Mill, our test site, that have been collected over a period of time.

4D Mapping a building in Hammer Missions
4D Mapping a building in Hammer Missions

Change Analysis

4D Drone mapping is not just images of the same site building or development, it’s in fact a representation of it in 4D.

With images, it is difficult to overlay them one on top of each other and understand how the entire site or asset is changing, however, with 4D models, this is simple.

If you spot something of interest and want to track it over time, it’s now possible to annotate it inside the 3D model - be it measurements, annotations, or something else.

4D drone map

Over time, it’s possible to build an understanding if things are getting better or worse.

  • "Is that crack growing?"

  • "Is the construction going according to plan?"

  • "Are health and safety procedures being followed on-site?"

This data is very valuable to the future planning and implementation of changes or maintenance that may occur on your site and the advantage is, as previously stated, this can be done time and time again!

AI and Predictive Maintenance

As 4D drone data inside organizations grow, it is inevitable that AI can be applied to this form of structured data to automatically identify trends.

These trends can be used to understand questions such as 'when is this asset likely going to fail?' or 'what % of the construction is complete?'

Predictions, especially when accurate, are powerful, they help us act and take preventative measures ahead of time. It’s amazing to think we will soon be living in a world where reality itself can be mapped in 4D and predictions can be made using this data.


4D data is an important step in the evolution of site management and maintenance, it's the past, present, and future of your development.

Organizations that understand this are using it for a vast variety of mapping, and inspection use cases, giving them the advantage of having the knowledge of how not only how their site is performing but what it has come from and what it's likely to look like in the future.

4D data applies to both the interior and exterior of assets, and over time both of those worlds will fuse.

We’re excited about the future and hope you are too. If you’d like to learn more about the above or discuss how Hammer Missions can help you implement 4D drone data, please get in touch with us at

We hope the article helps you understand 4D drone data and its place in the industry.

If you'd like to learn more about how to capture high-quality data and get the most out of your drone flights using our cloud-based platform, please feel free to visit our learning resources.

If you haven't got a Hammer account and would like to try Hammer Missions you can get started on our free trial.

To learn more about our enterprise solutions, including mission collaboration, data processing, and AI solutions, please contact us at

We look forward to hearing from you. — Team at Hammer Missions


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