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Types of Drone Data Export Formats


Drone Data Export Formats
Drone Data Export Formats



Overview


Data collection with a drone is only really the first step in drone mapping. As you plan on capturing the required data, it's important to decide what format that data needs to be exported in.


So what are drone data export formats, and why do they matter?

In basic terms, drone data can be exported in different industry-standard formats when delivering data for mapping or inspection use cases.


The correct format ensures that the end-client or stakeholder can readily use the data and that the data can be easily integrated with other software tools used in GIS and Engineering environments.




Common Drone Data | Export Formats


Below we will go through the different drone data export formats, what they are, and why they are useful.



Format #1. Point Cloud (3D)


3D Point Cloud | Drone Mapping
3D Point Cloud | Drone Mapping

What is a Point Cloud?


A point cloud is a collection of data points in three-dimensional space, typically used to represent the external surface of a building or structure. Each data point in a point cloud is defined by its three-dimensional coordinates (X, Y, Z), which specify its position in space.


Why are Point Clouds Useful?


Point clouds are useful because they provide a detailed and accurate representation of real-world geometry, making them useful for 3D modelling and photogrammetry. So if you are trying to understand the geometry of a asset or an asset, measure distances or scan a building into BIM environments, point clouds can be very useful.


What formats are Point Clouds typically in?


There are typically two formats for point cloud generation, these are:


  • .xyz - a very simple format for recording points in 3D space.

  • .las - a file format designed for the interchange and archiving of Lidar data.


We will talk more about these formats later in the article.


How to create Point Clouds?


You can easily create this data by exporting 3D data from a drone software platform such as Hammer Missions. For more information please see the post below: Processing Drone 3D Models



Format #2. Textured Mesh (3D)


3D Textured Mesh | Drone Mapping
3D Textured Mesh | Drone Mapping

What is a 3D Textured Mesh?


A 3D textured mesh is a representation of a three-dimensional (3D) building or structure that includes both the geometric structure (the mesh) and its surface appearance (the texture). You can think of this as similar to the point cloud, but with all the points joined up as vertices, edges, triangles, faces and more.


Why are 3D Textured Meshes Useful?


3D textured meshes give you a visual representation of your real-world asset, enabling you or your stakeholders to examine and inspect the structure or building in 3D space. They are photo-realistic so looking a 3D Textured can be akin to being on site looking at the asset of interest, assuming your 3D mesh is of high quality!


What formats are 3D textured Mesh Typically in?


3D Textured mesh can be exported in various formats, these are listed below:

  • .obj - simple & interoperable data format that represents 3D geometry

  • .fbx - 3D model file format commonly used in Autodesk environments.

  • .dxf - DXF is short for Drawing Interchange Format used in AutoCAD

  • .ply - PLY is a computer file format known as the Polygon File Format

How to create a 3D Textured Mesh?


A 3D Textured Mesh can be created by exporting 3D models from drone mapping software such as Hammer Missions as .obj, .fbx or similar files



Format #3. Orthomosaics & Thermal Maps (2D)


2D Orthomosaic | Drone Mapping
2D Orthomosaic | Drone Mapping

What are 2D Orthomosaics / 2D Thermal Maps?


2D Orthomosaics / 2D Thermal Maps are basically a nadir (top-down) maps or representation of your captured area. These are scale-corrected and photo-realistic so they can provide an accurate representation of what your site looks like from a "bird-eye" point of view.


Why are 2D Orthomosaics / 2D Thermal Maps Useful?


2D maps are helpful for not only data analysis from a nadir (top down) position but they can also be used for accurate measurements, planning, and spatial visualization. Similar to 2D orthomosaics, 2D Thermal mapping is ideal for assessing thermal data of the captured site. Typical applications of thermal data can be checking insulation properties of a building or detecting issues such as water ingress.


What formats are 2D Orthomosaics / 2D Thermal Maps Typically in?


Both 2D orthomosaic and 2D thermal data can be exported in various different formats, these are listed below:

  • .tiff - High-res image file

  • .kml - is a format used to display geographic data in Google Earth.


How to create 2D Orthomosaics / 2D Thermal Maps


You can easily create this data by exporting 2D maps from Hammer Missions

For more information please see the link below:




Format #4. Digital Elevation Models (2D)


2D Elevation Model | Drone Mapping
2D Elevation Model | Drone Mapping

What is a 2D Elevation Model?


A 2D elevation model, also known as a Digital Elevation Model (DEM), is a representation of the Earth's surface that provides information about the elevation or height of terrain features. Basically, it's heat map where different colours represent different height levels in the captured area of interest.


Why are 2D Elevation Models Useful?


A 2D elevation model is a valuable tool for representing and analyzing the Earth's surface (changes in heights and terrain) in a two-dimensional format, making it widely applicable in various fields, including geography, cartography, environmental science, and engineering.


What formats are 2D Elevation Models Typically in?


2D Elevation Models can be exported in various different formats, these are listed below:

  • .tiff - High-res image file

  • .kml - is a format used to display geographic data in Google Earth.

How to Create 2D Elevation Models


You can easily create this data by exporting 2D maps from Hammer Missions


For more information please see the link below:



5. Inspection Reports (2D)



2D Inspection Report | Drone Inspection
2D Inspection Report | Drone Inspection

What is an Inspection Report?


An inspection report allows the end user, client, or stakeholder, to view and track issues on a site or asset, collected in a pdf format.


Why is an Inspection Report Useful?


Inspection reports are useful for analyzing collected data in a PDF report format that gives the end user the ability to see annotations and issues found in the performed inspection. Inspection Reports are powerful as they help end customers to understand the current condition of their site or asset and undertake pre-emptive action as needed.


What format is an Inspection Report Typically in?


Inspection Models can be exported in:

  • .pdf - Essentially, the format is used when you need to save files that cannot be modified but still need to be easily shared and printed.

How to Create Inspection Reports?


These reports can easily be created in Hammer Missions.


Please see the link below for more information:



Drone Data Exports Supported By Hammer Missions


Hammer Missions is a software platform designed to help you capture and process many different types of drone data. Here are the current supported drone data formats:

DATA

FORMAT

3D Point Cloud

​.xyz, .las

3D Textured Mesh

.obj, .fbx

2D Orthomosaics

.tiff, .kml

2D DEMs

.tiff, .kml

Inspection Reports

.pdf


Summary


We hope this guide has helped you understand what the different drone data export formats are and what we support here at Hammer Missions


Our goal as an industry should be to not just deliver data, but the deliver the right data, Drone data Formats are essential to that!


If you'd like to learn more about how to produce high-quality data and get the most out of your drone missions, please feel free to visit our learning resources.


If you haven't got a Hammer account as of yet 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 team@hammermissions.com


We look forward to hearing from you.


- Team at Hammer Missions

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