With the rise of the drone industry, many companies are looking for aerial content. In many cases, aerial imagery is a key aspect of the project whether it be for a real estate development or a pipeline inspection.
Getting your drone mapping data into something that can quickly and easily be analyzed by a GIS user is important if you want to see the fruits of your labor.
Luckily, there are a handful of drone mapping software packages on the market that can help with drone data processing and conversion.
Choosing which one to use is dependent on a variety of factors, from cost to intended purpose. Let's take a look into 5 of the most popular drone mapping software packages for converting unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) data into a useable form.
Table of Contents
- Things To Consider While Choosing Drone Mapping Software
- User Interface
- Supported File Formats
- Customer Support
- 5 Best Drone Mapping Software Packages In 2023
- 1. Pix4D Capture
- 2. PrecisionHawk
- 3. DroneDeploy
- 4. DJI GroundStation
- 5. AgiSoft
Things To Consider While Choosing Drone Mapping Software
There are several factors that go into picking the right drone mapping software package. Of course, the cost of each product will play its part in your decision-making process, but other factors may be more important.
For example, if you plan on running a small business that uses drones, then it may be worth your time to consider software packages that have extensive support for the latest versions of the common desktop environments.
If you have a large team, it will likely be necessary to look at software with collaboration tools built-in from the beginning. Other things you might consider are automation, support for multiple types of sensor data, and extensibility.
Another thing which you will want to consider is the ease of use for any software packages that you are considering. While some systems can handle just about everything themselves, others require additional work on your part after the initial data conversion.
Every person and organization has a unique workflow, so it is important that you find software that fits into yours rather than requiring you to change it.
If your workflow is already established, then software that requires additional steps, such as manual digitizing or data stitching, should be avoided.
If there are any systems that require tedious data preparation steps after the processing, make sure they include erosion tools before making a final decision.
Before you make a purchase, ask yourself if the system can streamline your workflow or if it will require you to do additional work for yourself and adjust accordingly.
Converting drone data into usable information is hard. Even now, there are very few options that offer everything you need out of the box.
Most services will give you access to a powerful data processing engine, which will handle converting your drone imagery into a useable product.
The best services offer some type of ground control point (GCP) creation capabilities as well, but make sure it is included in the package before you decide to purchase.
After you have all of your data processed, it can be difficult to visualize the information in a meaningful way. Because of this, look for software packages with good visualization support. Most platforms will give you access to powerful 3D visualization tools along with useful map creation capabilities.
Read: 10 BEST MAPPING DRONES In 2023
Supported File Formats
Before you can import your drone data into the software, it needs to exist in a file format that the platform supports.
The two most common file formats are GeoTIFF and HDF, which indicate that the system will be able to support the most common sensor types. For images or video captured by a UAV's camera, look for systems that support the common industry standard for geographic imagery, GeoTIFF.
As far as file output formats are concerned, look for systems that support traditional desktop GIS formats such as Shapefiles or GeoJSON.
Depending on your workflow, it may be necessary to use an intermediary format, so make sure to find out what types of data the software can save before you make a purchase.
Price can also be a deciding factor in terms of software packages. Very few people will want to pay for services that offer very little, but at the same time, not everyone has the budget necessary to get every feature known to man.
Even though these packages are typically multiple thousands of dollars, many organizations still choose them because they provide end-to-end solutions to help manage their data for years to come.
The packages which are more affordable require additional work on your part, such as stitching images together or manually creating ground control points (GCPs).
However, this can be advantageous because it gives you the freedom to make the software fit into your workflow instead of forcing you to change it.
One of the most important features to look for in a drone data processing service is good customer support. You are likely going to need support at some point, so it is best to avoid companies that offer little more than online documentation.
Some options provide all-inclusive end-to-end services with their own staff of GIS analysts and engineers to help you convert your data for use with their software.
Others will partner with 3rd party firms, in which case it is best to read the reviews and investigate whether or not they offer adequate assistance when needed.
5 Best Drone Mapping Software Packages In 2023
If you are looking for a platform to manage your drone data, then look no further than the following 5 best drone mapping software options. Each package has its own set of pros and cons, but all of them should be considered if you want to make sure your drone mapping process is efficient and streamlined.
1. Pix4D Capture
Pix4D Capture is a powerful, user-friendly software package that helps organizations map and model the world from their aerial imagery. The software works directly with drone images and uses its proprietary cloud processing engine to provide users with rapid results.
This real-time computation allows for quick automated data processing without having to upload any of your data or wait for processing.
One of the most significant benefits of using Pix4D Capture is that it is compatible with just about every major drone on the market, thanks to its universal file format.
As long as your files are in DNG, JPEG, TIFF, or any other industry-standard format, then they will be processed with ease.
Another amazing feature of Pix4D Capture is its full compatibility with all major GIS software packages, making it one of the most versatile options on the market.
The ability to export data into formats like GeoTIFF, KML and more can save you countless hours down the road because many other mapping systems are only compatible with specific software.
If you are looking for more advanced mapping software, then PrecisionHawk is the best option on the market. The company offers a number of different packages designed to meet specific needs and scale with your organization as you grow.
One of the biggest benefits of PrecisionHawk is its ability to handle ultra-HD data and very large datasets, which can be used to create incredibly precise maps.
Their "Scout" package works by stitching together multiple drone images so you can have a complete map without having to upload your data or wait long processing times.
Another major benefit of PrecisionHawk is its ability to create 3D models from the data, making it easy to visualize what a site will look like before you even get there.
This can be a huge advantage for construction companies who need to create detailed models of the building or site that are being planned.
DroneDeploy is another powerful mapping platform that takes advantage of real-time data processing. The software currently supports imagery captured from DJI drones, but they are working on expanding this list so you can be sure it will work with whatever drone equipment you have now or purchase in the future.
One of the biggest advantages of using DroneDeploy is its ability to create 3D models and maps directly from your aerial footage. This can be incredibly beneficial for organizations that need their data visualized and don't have the capability to create these products themselves.
DroneDeploy is compatible with standard GIS formats, so you should have no problem getting it into other software packages if necessary.
Read: HOW MANY HOURS DOES IT TAKE TO BECOME A PILOT?
4. DJI GroundStation
The last software package we will be taking a look at is DJI GroundStation. This solution was developed by DJI as an official way to process their data, so you can expect it to work flawlessly with all of their drones and gimbals.
One great thing about DJI GroundStation is that it takes advantage of the same SDK which was created for the DJI Phantom 3, so it is guaranteed to work with all of your drone equipment.
It also handles processing in real-time, so you don't have to wait for data before being able to use your maps, and you can plan flights from within the software itself.
One drawback of using GroundStation is its steep learning curve. Because it was developed by DJI, the interface will be very similar to an actual DJI controller, so you might have a more challenging time learning how to use this software than some of the other options on the market.
PhotoScan from AgiSoft is a software package that takes advantage of photogrammetry technology to stitch together your drone images into a complete map. This type of 3D data processing has been around for decades, but it has only recently become popular in the commercial drone mapping industry.
One great thing about PhotoScan is that it fully integrates with Pix4D, so you can quickly move data between the two different programs to create even more accurate maps.
This is especially useful for construction companies who need to go back and forth between these platforms because it saves time and money during the mapping process.
Another major benefit of PhotoScan is its massive compatibility list. The software works with almost any drone on the market, which means that you can use whatever equipment you already have or choose.
It is also compatible with most major GIS software packages, so it is incredibly easy to get your data into different formats depending on what you need.
When you're looking for the best drone mapping software package to use, there is no shortage of options available. The good news is that each of these programs has something that makes them unique and worth trying out.
If you are a construction company looking to map projects in 3D, PrecisionHawk's "Scout" package will be very useful. If you are looking for more advanced mapping software, then AgiSoft's PhotoScan is the best option on the market.
For an all-inclusive solution that will allow you to control your drone and process data with ease, DJI GroundStation is the way to go.
If none of these options work for your specific business, there is also the possibility of creating your own software solution. By taking advantage of open-source libraries and SDKs, you can create an application that works perfectly for your needs.
This option may take time to set up, but it will be worth it in the end if you are looking for something that will integrate perfectly with your existing equipment.
And that's it for this article! You now have all of the best software packages to find when looking for drone mapping solutions, so you will be able to pick the one that works with your specific needs.
What is the best drone software for 3D mapping? ›
DJI Terra is a simple mapping software designed to help you convert drone data into digital assets. If you're new to drone mapping, go no further than DJI Terra, which is designed to assist you in creating detailed 2D and 3D images from data collected by your drone.Is there any free drone mapping software? ›
WebODM. By far, the most popular software platform for drone mapping that you can download and use for free is WebODM. This is open-source software that has been around for a few years and has been improved vastly by its active user community.What is the best commercial drone software? ›
Best Commercial Drone Software include:
DroneDeploy, Kespry, 3D Robotics Site Scan, Propeller Platform, Skydio, and Altitude Angel GuardianUTM.
Drone mapping software enables earthworks and civil construction companies to map and survey large areas of land using a drone or UAV. First, the drone flies over the worksite and captures overlapping photos of the terrain.What is the best free mapping software? ›
- Esri ArcGIS.
- MapInfo Pro.
- Scribble Maps.
- Global Mapper.
Google Maps Is Adding a 3D 'Immersive View' That's Like Flying a Drone From Afar. The new feature, introduced at Google I/O 2022, gives a rotating 3D view of cities from the air, with live traffic and weather.What is the best drone app? ›
- Drone Apps: Airmap. A must-have for every drone pilot. ...
- Hover. Drawing on the valuable data from AirMap, Hover is a simple app that tells you if it's safe to fly in your current location. ...
- Google Maps. ...
- PhotoPills. ...
- UAV Forecast. ...
- B4UFly. ...
- DJI Go. ...
- Tesla Field Recorder.
PrecisionHawk's software to fly, review, process and analyze drone data, PrecisionMapper, is now available for free.Which software is used to design drones? ›
Computer-aided design (CAD)—designing the drone
A great way to visualize the design is to model it using CAD software.
Correlator3D is SimActive's patented high-end photogrammetry software that is not only used from drones, but also from airplanes and satellites. It's designed to work with any type of UAV platform, camera, and sensor. However, it is currently only available for Windows computers.
Which is better DroneDeploy or Pix4D? ›
As you can tell, both DroneDeploy and Pix4D provide similar capabilities. Choosing one over the other will come down to the scale of your operation and budget. While the entry-level is lower with DroneDeploy, it is limited in options.What is the most popular mapping software? ›
- Esri ArcGIS.
- Google Earth Pro.
- Google Maps API.
- ArcGIS Online.
- ArcGIS Pro.
- ArcGIS Navigator.
GIS Software. A Geographic Information System (GIS Software) is designed to store, retrieve, manage, display, and analyze all types of geographic and spatial data. GIS software lets you produce maps and other graphic displays of geographic information for analysis and presentation.What software can I use for process mapping? ›
- GitMind. Gitmind is one of the best free online process mapping tools available. ...
- Creately. Creately is another popular process mapping software program that you can use to create different types of diagrams. ...
- LucidChart. ...
- Edraw. ...
- Visual Paradigm. ...
- Google Drawings. ...
- Canva. ...
What is the MapPoint Alternative? The MapPoint alternative is Maptitude. Maptitude is the closest desktop replacement for MapPoint, Streets & Trips, and AutoRoute. Maptitude Online is a web-based alternative to MapPoint.Is Google mapping free? ›
With Google Maps Platform flexible pricing, daily quotas, and 28,500 maploads per month for no charge, it's easy to stay on budget.How can I map my own route for free? ›
- Google Maps. Best Free Route Planner for: Multiple purposes. ...
- Badger Maps. Best Route Planner for: Field Salespeople. ...
- RouteXL. Best Free Route Planner for: Delivery. ...
- MapQuest. Best Free Route Planner for: Road trips. ...
- Plotaroute. Best Free Route Planner for: Outdoor activities. ...
- TruckRouter. ...
- Waze. ...
- My Route Online.
According to the ICSM (Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping), there are five different types of maps: General Reference, Topographical, Thematic, Navigation Charts and Cadastral Maps and Plans.What are the 5 map tools? ›
- Latitude and Longitude.
Map Elements. Most maps contain the same common elements: main body, legend, title, scale and orientation indicators, inset map, and source notes.
Can police trace a drone? ›
Drones operating on RF communication can be tracked using RF sensors, while others that are GPS Pre-Programmed to a way point can be tracked using Radar detection. Visual detection technology like Pan, Tilt and Zoom (PTZ) Cameras can be used to get visuals on the detected drone, and confirm a drone threat.How do I get into drone mapping? ›
- Select as per the requirement. Select the drone as per your requirement. ...
- Choose Software. ...
- Flight Planning. ...
- Check Camera settings. ...
- Fly and review. ...
- Image processing.
Google Maps is a web service that provides detailed information about geographical regions and sites worldwide. In addition to conventional road maps, Google Maps offers aerial and satellite views of many locations.What app do most pilots use? ›
- Garmin Pilot. ...
- MyRadar. ...
- Sporty's E6B. ...
- CloudTopper. ...
- FltPlan Go. ...
- WingX. ...
- Takeoff. ...
The free DroneDeploy app is the leading software for drones with millions of flights flown by over 100,000 pilots! Download the DroneDeploy app to upgrade your drone with autonomous and free flight capabilities for automated capture in just a few taps. Your drone will fly itself! Anyone can fly with DroneDeploy.Can a phone control a drone? ›
Your drone might come with its own controller but that doesn't mean that you can't control it with your smartphone. Drones are now designed to work when they are controlled by smartphones, and that is a good thing considering that you don't always have the room to carry a drone controller with you.How much does MapInfo cost? ›
|04023||MapInfo Pro Single 1-Year Term||$970.00|
|04021||MapInfo Pro Single 3-Year Term||$2,175.00|
|04024||MapInfo Pro Single Premium 1-Year Term||$1,570.00|
|04025||MapInfo Pro Single Premium 3-Year Term||$3,980.00|
Try PIX4Dmapper for free now.What is the best height for drone mapping? ›
Altitude*; for orchards, we recommend flying higher than 150m/500ft (first check your local air regulations); however, if you are mapping field crops in an early stage, we recommend flying at 50m/165ft.What is the best program to edit drone footage? ›
- Adobe Premiere Pro (PC/Mac)
- Final Cut Pro (Mac)
- Movie Maker 10 (PC)
- Apple iMovie (iOS/Mac)
- Vegas Pro Edit/VR Studio (PC)
- Lightworks (PC/Linux/Mac)
- InVideo (Web Browser)
- PowerDirector 18 Ultra (PC)
How much does drone software cost? ›
|Business Plan (1 user) – $3,588/year||Standard Edition license – $179||Subscription – $2,950/year|
|Enterprise (multiple users) – custom pricing||Professional Edition license – $3,499||Perpetual License – $5,900|
Rather than spend several hundreds of dollars to buy a drone, you can build your own drone for as little as $99. For such complicated machines, drones have very few parts and don't take fancy engineering to build one. There are a bunch of fun “build your own drone” kits.What are the 5 uses of drones? ›
- search and rescue.
- traffic monitoring.
- weather monitoring.
- personal use.
- drone-based photography.
An internet connection is only required to activate and deactivate your desktop or laptop. You can process projects without an internet connection after your computer is activated. Monthly, yearly or one time charge licenses do not require an Internet connection for processing.How accurate is Pix4D? ›
More specifically, accuracy of the outputs should be close to 1-2 pixels (GSD) horizontally (XY) and 2-3 pixels (GSD) vertically (Z). If you want to keep the accuracy (relative and absolute) as high as possible then you will want to keep your GSD as low as possible.Can you add 3D mapping software to drone? ›
Esri offers a desktop deployment for drone mapping software, so you can turn drone images into 2D and 3D models while in an offline environment. Quick processing enables the creation of georeferenced maps while in the field.What is the most realistic 3D software? ›
- 3ds Max Design.
- D5 Render.
- Cinema 4D.
- Autodesk Arnold.
- Microsoft Visio.
The average projection mapping service costs about $10,000 per one-minute of 3D video content. But in addition to the cost of the video development time, you'll also need to take into consideration the cost of the projectors, media server, and hard drive.What is needed for drone mapping? ›
GPS systems are absolutely essential in drone mapping. It allows drones to fly along pre-programmed flight paths, fly within the designated survey area, and geotag photos as they are captured. Thus, images captured during mapping contain both visual data and spatial data that are processed during image rectification.
What is the best altitude for mapping? ›
During your first flight, consider flying at an altitude between 300–400 feet above ground level (AGL). Flying at a higher altitude gives the camera more land area to cover in a single image. This translates to greater chances of capturing any unique features that are present in multiple photos.What are the methods of drone mapping? ›
Drone mapping works by taking many aerial images of an area of interest. Through a process called photogrammetry, these many images are then turned into a single complete image, called an orthomosaic. All the objects and features in an orthomosaic are scaled and can be georeferenced.What is the hardest 3D software to learn? ›
3ds Max is likely the most difficult software to learn on this list. Its UI is rather obtuse, so it may have the largest learning curve for users yet unfamiliar with 3D modeling.Which 3D software is most in demand? ›
- 3ds Max Design.
- Creo Parametric.
- Cinema 4D.
- Intergraph Smart Review.