We provide aerial mapping services for high-resolution digital maps of properties from less than one acre to hundreds of acres. Our prices start at $150 for our standard mapping service, which includes mission planning, delivery of photos, and driving time within our local service area (up to 40 minutes). Please call Mike at 540-693-0377 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for a quote.
We program our aerial drones to take overhead pictures at precise positions where their GPS-based location is embedded into each picture. Our mapping service can take hundreds of pictures – even thousands – and generate 2-dimensional maps, 3-dimensional maps, elevation maps, and point clouds. Our typical resolution is 2 to 3 cm per pixel, which is plenty good for zooming in on small objects. For example, a feature 2-feet wide will have an image width of 20-30 pixels.
We’re very experienced with photographing and delivering precision map products. As described below, several of these deliverables require specialized software to take full advantage of 3-D mapping. (We will point you to several free viewers, available on the Internet.) Our cartography services will meet most basic needs but are not certified by a professional land surveyor.
Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) Mapping
We’re pleased to announce our premium service, RTK (and PPK) mapping, starting in July 2023. The combination of our ground-based RTK station and RTK-enabled drone provides high accuracy mapping products. Drone manufacturer DJI specifies horizontal accuracy as 1.0 cm and vertical accuracy as 1.5 cm.
High-Resolution Orthomosaic Photogrammetry Maps
Our more advanced mapping products, known as Orthomosaic Photogrammetry Maps, are geared toward land developers who have the high-powered software that processes these products. These digital maps, when used with specialized software, display position and elevation information for every pixel. We can also deliver topographical maps with contours at whatever interval you may require. We can also deliver 3D models and point clouds.
For example, this orthomosaic map was developed from 56 images covering 8 acres. Its associated digital elevation model (below) represents elevation with colors from blue to red (just about any color scheme is available). Its associated 3D Model can be manipulated on screen to any viewing angle – you can rotate and tilt the model. Its associated 3D Point Cloud is next to it. Point clouds are particularly exciting because the 3D model can be manipulated so you can see (to a certain extent) under the trees!
We take our orthomosaic photogrammetry maps to the next level with post-processing techniques that manipulate map data to get topographical (elevation contour) maps and overlay these contours onto their associated 2D photomaps. An example appears on our portfolio page.
Standard Mapping Service
Our Standard Mapping Service uses a Phantom 4 Pro V2 drone with a mechanical shutter. Its elevation accuracy is dependent on an internal barometer. Air pressure is read and converted to altitude, but temperature also affects the barometer’s reading. (Please read our February 2022 blog Altimeter Error’s Effect on 3D Mapping)
Based on our own empirical data, our drones average up to 7 feet of elevation error over the duration of a 20-minute flight. Considering the standard deviation and margin of error, we can expect up to an additional 6 feet of error over a flight. Our mapping service takes altimeter readings from the photo tags and cannot compensate for these errors. This means your map’s accuracy is set by the drone’s altimeter, which peaks out at around +/-6.5 feet.
While this elevation specification may be adequate for a topographical map with 25-feet contours, contours of 10 feet or less approach the drone’s altitude error spec. (We use 7 feet.)
Premium Mapping Service
Our Premium Mapping Service uses a Mavic 3 Enterprise drone with an RTK module and a ground-based RTK station. This combination provides an elevation accuracy of 1.5 cm and horizontal (position) accuracy of 1.0 cm, with respect to the RTK station’s location. The resulting topographical maps are useful for land management and construction sites. For example, calculating the volume of earth to be moved.
In addition to orthomosaic photogrammetry maps, we also provide overhead photographic maps (photomaps), similar to popular Earth maps but at a much greater resolution. We use a similar aerial drone photo collection technique to take the overhead pictures, then use our panorama software to stitch together the images into a composite 2-dimensional map. This service is less expensive, and it doesn’t come with position and elevation information. However, this type of map is ideal for landowners and real estate agents who don’t need photogrammetry mapping. For example, the 40-acre cornfield below is a composite of 326 images and was reduced from a full-size map image of 276 megapixels. Features like small animals (if present) will show up quite well on maps like this.
Water areas don’t resolve at all. Forested areas, such as shrubs and trees, don’t resolve very well. We’ll review your map project and advise if your proposed site is at risk for not turning out (no charge). We guarantee usable map products, but respectfully decline jobs that include water expanses or consist primarily of forested areas. Please read our blog on 3D Mapping Limitations.