I have talked about drones quite a bit recently. How they are helping out a variety of industries. How they are making solar panel maintenance easier. How they make mining safer by enabling autonomous underground data collection.
That’s because drones are becoming a valuable tool across the board.
These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) have swiftly transformed various industries, including surveying and mapping. Their ability to provide accurate data, increase efficiency, and enhance safety has drastically improved traditional practices.
Despite its evident benefits, drone technology often faces challenges and barriers that hinder its widespread use in these fields. In this blog post, I want to explore these barriers. And, I’d like to discuss how surveyors and mappers can overcome challenges and use drone technology effectively.
The Potential of Drones in Surveying and Mapping
Before I start talking about challenges, it’s essential to acknowledge the incredible potential of drones in surveying and mapping. These UAVs have opened up new possibilities for professionals in industries such as construction, agriculture, mining, and more. Here’s what they offer.
Accurate Data: Drones can be equipped with advanced sensors and cameras that provide precise data, reducing the margin for error.
Enhanced Efficiency: They can cover large areas quickly, saving time and resources.
Improved Safety: Drones can access hard-to-reach or hazardous locations, keeping personnel out of harm’s way.
Exyn Technologies and other such companies are working towards improving drone technology to increase accuracy, efficiency, and safety in the workplace.
But, like I said, there are some barriers to their adoption. Let’s take a look at the challenges that impede the seamless integration of drones into surveying and mapping workflows.
Identifying the Barriers to Drone Adoption in Surveying and Mapping and How to Overcome Them
Creating effective workflows tailored to specific projects can be difficult. Drone professionals may not know the processes involved in designing optimal data workflows.
At the same time, surveyors and mappers often grapple with the challenge of integrating drones into their existing processes. That’s because they don’t know what the tool is capable of.
The key to overcoming the workflow creation challenge lies in collaboration. Drone professionals and surveyors need to work together to understand each other’s requirements.
The workflow should be developed from the surveying side. And, pure drone pilots should collaborate with surveyors rather than try to take on the industry as individuals.
You also need proper training and client collaboration for a successful workflow.
Defining and Capturing Accuracy
Understanding the level of accuracy required for different jobs and effectively capturing that accuracy can be a significant challenge. Achieving precision in data collection is a priority for surveyors and mappers.
The problem arises when it comes to defining exactly how precise the data needs to be. For example, surveying raw land and a construction site have different precision requirements.
Once you’ve defined the accuracy level, the next challenge is to capture it. In manual processing, any errors would be caught by someone. The problem is, it’s difficult to catch errors in an automated system. That’s a big reason why surveyors and mappers are reluctant to adopt this technology.
It’s important to match the degree of accuracy required for each project. Understanding coordinate systems and ensuring the correct mapping and measurement standards are in place can make a significant difference. A comprehensive analysis of the project’s needs will save both time and money.
The ever-evolving regulatory landscape can be a source of uncertainty and delays. Complying with regulations and obtaining necessary approvals can be a hurdle, particularly for new adopters of drone technology.
However, things are changing—albeit slowly—and hopefully, drone operation regulations will become quicker and easier.
Whilst regulations can be complex, the regulatory environment is improving, and getting waivers and approvals is becoming more accessible. Navigating regulatory challenges involves working through the approval process and proving that drone operations can be conducted safely. Quick turnaround times for waiver applications are a positive sign of progress.
Training and Personnel
Training staff to operate drones and convincing seasoned professionals to embrace new technologies can be a struggle. Most people who are already established in a role don’t want to learn new tools when the old ones are “working just fine.”
A mindset shift and a willingness to adapt to new tools are essential.
Easy-to-use systems and user-friendly platforms are essential for quicker adoption of the technology. At the same time, to get the most out of drone-based surveying and mapping, companies must ensure their staff is proficient in using these systems.
Many experts recommend that professionals in the field first become seasoned surveyors or mappers. Then, they can learn how to apply drone systems to their work.
Managing Client Expectations
Handling client expectations and educating them about the capabilities and limitations of drone technology can be a demanding task. Some clients may have unrealistic expectations about what drones can achieve. Why would you want to make your own life difficult by giving them ammunition to demand unrealistic results?
Managing client expectations is an ongoing and essential part of the educational process. It’s essential to communicate what drone technology can bring to the table. And, as the technology evolves, discover new and emerging uses.
It’s easy to dismiss what clients are asking for by saying it’s not possible. However, their needs could help drive innovation. Collaboration with clients can lead to innovative solutions that meet their needs and make the most of drone capabilities.
The barriers to drone adoption in surveying and mapping are real, but they are not insurmountable. With the right strategies and a collaborative approach, the advantages of drones can be fully realised in these fields.
To achieve better and more accurate results, it is important to address workflow challenges, define and capture accuracy, navigate regulations, provide necessary training, and manage client expectations. By embracing drone technology, surveyors and mappers can take their work to new heights.
Parul Mathur has been writing since 2009. That’s when she discovered her love for SEO and how it works. She developed an interest in learning HTML and CSS a couple of years later, and React in 2020. When she’s not writing, she’s either reading, walking her dog, messing up her garden, or doodling.