Drone Mapping vs Inspection | What's The Difference Anyway?
Drone mapping and drone inspection are both very popular in the industry, whether you are an individual drone operator or part of an in-house UAV team, the likelihood is you have done your fair share of both whilst you have been flying drones.
But for those of you who still question the difference between mapping and inspection then read on or alternatively check out our podcast on the subject:
Why Know The Difference?
So why is it important to know the difference, below we will look at a few fundamentals when it comes to asking the question "Why know the difference?"
To produce a high quality output, it is important to know what you are capturing!
You can only improve what you define and measure.
You are responsible for knowing the difference between mapping and inspection and educating your team members or stakeholders on those differences.
What Is Mapping?
Let's start with mapping and what the definition of mapping is.
Mapping is creating an accurate representation of “where something is” at a location or on a site.
Maps = Information and information = power
Maps can be represented as a 2D image, an orthomosaic, or a 3D image collated via a method of photogrammetry.
Images are collected in a structured fashion, usually a grid formation with a good deal of overlap.
The example in the picture above depicts a mapping mission using Hammer Missions.
This, once processed, would create a 2D map.
The example in the picture above depicts a 3D mapping mission using Hammer Missions. This, once processed would create a 3D model. This example is without using the additional obliques that would make the 3D model more accurate.
For more information on 3D modeling please see our post:
Mapping Buildings in 3D using Drones: An End-to-End Guide
What is Inspection?
Moving onto inspection, let's look at defining what inspection actually is...
Inspection's goal is to understand the condition of an asset, like a structure or site.
It helps identify defects and issues before they become too large or unmanageable.
Useful for creating a repair plan from the inspected data.
Drone Images that are collected are used to maximize coverage and detail.
The example in the picture above depicts a roof inspection mission using Hammer Missions. This will collect images of the roof in a horizontal pattern for further inspection.
For further information on how you can use Hammer Missions to inspect your asset please see the post below:
How to use Drones for Building Inspections
So now we have discussed both mapping and inspection and what they are, we can look at typical outputs for both and how you would use them in a real-world environment.
So what outputs would we typically use for mapping, below we discuss some of the most popular options.
The end goal for mapping is to integrate with other CAD software.
Normally you would see 2D maps exported as .tiff files
3D Models are exported as .obj and .las files
3D Model Created using Hammer Missions
So what outputs would we typically use for inspection, below we discuss some of the most popular options?
Images with location coordinates.
A 3D model with markers or annotations to indicate problematic issues.
PDF reports with all issues and annotations documented.
When to Map vs When to Inspect?
Now we know what the typical outputs are for drone mapping and drone inspection we need to decide which of the options suits us best.
You will need to decide when to map or when to inspect.
There are several factors to consider here and we will look at each one below:
Each flight will very much depend on the use-case.
What is the stakeholder or client looking to achieve?
Is the stakeholder looking to understand what is on the site? for example construction progress monitoring if so your best option would be mapping
Is the stakeholder looking to understand the present condition of an asset? for example cracks on a roof, corrosion, and missing tiles on a facade? If so the best option would be an inspection.
Drone Cameras for Mapping
Which cameras would be best suited for mapping? Below we will look at some of the factors we need to consider when mapping with drones.
Images need to be post-processed into a map
Low motion blur: you cannot afford to miss photos when mapping
Important to have a camera with a global mechanical shutter to achieve fast camera shot intervals
Originally the DJI Phantom 4 Pro was the flagship goto drone, but now DJI P1 (attached to a compatible drone) and DJI Mavic 3E are strong competitors.
DJI Mavic 3 E
Drone Cameras for Inspection
Which cameras would be best suited for inspection? Below we will look at some of the factors we need to consider when mapping with drones.
Images need to be zoomed in to pick up the fine detail.
Zoom cameras and high-megapixel cameras are typically the best for inspection purposes.
DJI H20 or Mavic 2 Zoom and thermal cameras - DJI XT, H20T, M3T, for specialist inspection.
DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise
To summarise mapping vs inspection the best options would be:
Use the right tool for the job
Understand what your client or stakeholder needs.
Build your solution around their needs.
We hope this blog post helps you understand how to add further images to your 3D Modelling project in Hammer Missions
If you'd like to learn more about how to 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 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 email@example.com.
We look forward to hearing from you.
— Team at Hammer Missions