Use of drones for surveys, mapping and 3D model creation

By Anthony (Tony) Bleasdale

2 min read

Use of Drones for Surveys, Mapping and 3D Model Creation

Drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), are quickly becoming a valuable tool for change detection, mapping and other applications in the Maritime Industry. UAVs are efficient, less obtrusive to operations and the environment, and are able to access infrastructure safely by effectively eliminating the need for staging, man-lifts and boats.

Ausenco employs UAV’s to perform the following services for the investigation and planning of terminal infrastructure:

  • Remote visual inspections
  • Surveys, mapping and modeling
  • 3D renderings for terminal audits & planning
  • Operational & maintenance monitoring
  • Environmental investigations and monitoring

In addition, UAV’s are used to monitor or investigate maritime incidents such as spills and discharges, and allisions and collisions. They are also used to monitor ship movement, as well as construction and dredging projects.

3-D Model Creation

Ausenco employs software that stitches together hundreds of high resolution two-dimensional images to create an accurate and precise 3D model, complete with altitude and UTM coordinates. Within the software we can zoom, rotate, measure and map features in the model. We can easily extract information such as volume, slope and topographic details. The created model file is easily imported into AutoCAD and off-the-shelf GIS software.

In the comparison below, we look at the same area (a rail switch at a terminal) and compare the details observable in the UAV image, the ortho image, and the 3-D model. Of note, is the fact that detail is not lost in the creation of the ortho or 3D model, and that the 3D model offers the additional benefit of being able to examine the rail switch from different angles zooming to review details closely and to obtain accurate measurement.

We have several drones that we use on-site, and select the appropriate equipment depending on the situation – i.e., location, height, weather etc.

In summary, drones offer the following advantages:

  • Increased safety & ease of access to object(s) under investigation
  • Relatively inexpensive over traditional aircraft or cranes/manlifts
  • Ability to easily capture site, structure and environmental images
  • Immediate data capture (video and stills) with real-time broadcasting
  • Captured data can be used to create ortho and 3D models
  • Fast and accurate small to large scale mapping/monitoring and change detection

To find out more, please contact us.