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  • Writer's pictureHammer Missions

How do a Visual & Thermal Roof Inspection using a Drone?


Commercial drone roof inspections have gained significant popularity in recent years as an innovative and efficient method for assessing the condition of rooftops. This surge in popularity can be attributed to several factors, including the cost-effectiveness, safety, and time-saving benefits of using drones in comparison to traditional manual inspection methods.

In this article, we'll explore how to conduct a visual and thermal inspection of residential and commercial roofs using drones. Drones have become powerful tools for capturing data that can be vital for roof assessments. We'll discuss the equipment, planning, and data processing steps involved in this process, as well as how to compare visual and thermal survey results. Let's dive into the details.

Step-by-Step Guide for Thermal Roof Inspections

Step 1. Equipment and Preparation

To begin a successful roof inspection, you'll need the right equipment. In this guide, we'll focus on using the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced and Mavic 3T drones, which are known for their high-quality imaging capabilities. The goal is to capture both visual and thermal data simultaneously.

Target Roof for Thermal Inspection
Target Roof for Thermal Inspection

Thermal Drone for Inspection
Thermal Drone for Inspection

Step 2. Planning the Inspection

Effective planning is crucial. We recommend using Hammer Missions, a versatile platform for drone mission planning and data processing. Here's how you get started:

Create a Mission File: In Hammer Missions, begin by creating a mission file. Enter the coordinates of the roof you plan to inspect and center the map on the target area.

Select Mission Type: Depending on your requirements, choose between 2D mapping and 3D modelling. For our example, we will focus on a 2D mapping mission.

Draw a Polygon: Use the platform to draw a polygon that covers the roof you intend to inspect. Be precise in following the geometry of the roof.

Adjust Parameters: Set the altitude, ground offset, overlap, flight direction, gimbal tilt, and flight speed. Consider the size and type of the structure when configuring these settings.

Review and Confirm: Ensure that the parameters match your specific requirements. Having a detailed flight plan is essential for a successful inspection.

Step 3. Visual and Thermal Data Capture

Once you have your flight plan, you're ready to execute it in the field. Make sure your drone is equipped with the necessary camera and thermal imaging equipment. Load the mission onto your drone's controller, and you're good to go.

During the flight, the drone will capture both visual and thermal data, providing you with a comprehensive set of images that will be invaluable for your inspection. Remember to pay attention to safety and regulations during the flight.

Step 4. Data Processing

After a successful flight, it's time to process the data. Hammer Missions streamlines this process. Follow these steps:

Upload the Data: Return to the platform and upload all the images captured during the mission.

Processing: Hammer Missions can process the images to create a 2D map, which will offer you a detailed view of the roof's structure.

Visual Inspection: Now, you can examine the images to identify issues like cracked tiles or any other anomalies. Annotate the images to document your findings.

Measurements: Use the platform's measurement tool to measure dimensions on the roof accurately. This is crucial for any potential repairs or installations.

Thermal Inspection: A thermal inspection is an excellent way to identify potential issues early. Use thermal data to detect areas with higher heat signatures. Anomalies in the thermal data can indicate potential problems that may require further investigation.

Comparing Visual and Thermal Data: By comparing visual and thermal data side by side, you can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the roof's condition. Visual inspections provide a closer look at the physical structure, while thermal data can identify areas with temperature irregularities.

Visual vs Thermal Inspection | Compare Mode
Visual vs Thermal Inspection | Compare Mode

Note: You will need the Cruise plan on Hammer Missions to be able to use the compare mode.

Visual vs Thermal Inspection | Compare Mode
Visual vs Thermal Inspection | Compare Mode

Sharing and Reporting

One of the advantages of using a cloud-based platform is the ability to share your findings with others. You can invite team members, clients, or stakeholders to collaborate on the project. This collaborative approach ensures that everyone has access to the same data and can contribute to the analysis.

Additionally, you can generate a detailed report in PDF format. This report will include all your annotations, measurements, and findings, making it easy to communicate your inspection results, even with those who don't have access to the platform.


In this article, we've explored the process of conducting visual and thermal roof inspections using drones. This technology allows for detailed data collection, efficient analysis, and collaborative reporting. Whether you're inspecting residential or commercial roofs, the process remains the same, and the benefits are significant. Drones equipped with visual and thermal imaging capabilities are powerful tools for ensuring the safety and integrity of roofing structures.

If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to share them in the comments section. We're eager to hear how this workflow aligns with your current practices and what improvements can be made. Thank you for reading!

- Team at Hammer Missions


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