The Mapping Software you need to make smarter decisions
If you’re using drones to capture any kind of data, getting the right software is essential. Whether for photogrammetry, LiDAR or asset inspection, software transforms your raw data into impressive files, ready to inform your critical decisions. Mapping software is ever changing, so read on for our latest picks of the best Drone Mapping software for 2022.
1) Best Drone Mapping Software : Pix4D
Price: Free 15 Day Trial, then scaled from £195 for one month up to £3699 for a lifetime licence
Check out our recent Webinar on Pix4Dmapper and Pix4Dsurvey with product experts from Pix4D Nate and Andrew
Pix4D has been in the drone mapping software game for a while. Pioneers of innovative photogrammetry software such as Pix4D Mapper was designed specifically for professional drone mapping applications. As with Agisoft’s Metashape, Pix4D Mapper has functionality for RGB, thermal and multi-spectral imaging.
Pix4D Mapper allows you to automate both your drone flight and image data transfer and provides survey-grade results to sub-centimetre level. If your project is relatively simple, default templates allow for simple and automated processing of photogrammetric point clouds. It’s simple to measure surface, distance, volume and elevation but if you struggle, Pix4D’s support is second to none.
There’s a thriving ‘Community’ forum and online tutorials which are available free to anyone. Subscribers then also benefit from email support within 24 business hours. For Enterprise customers, there’s the option to pay for phone and screen-sharing support.
By far the most unique thing about Pix4D is the development of industry-specific drone mapping options. There are solutions for Civil Engineering, Agriculture, Engineering, Mining, Public Safety, Education and Construction.
Each package has been created to answer the specific challenges of drone mapping in each sector as well as find solutions to inherent problems. For instance, the Mining software package can help to identify issues with slope stability and other geohazards whilst performing automated stockpile calculations. If you’re looking for drone mapping software for construction, you’ll find options for cut and fill calculations, excavation comparisons and topographic surveys.
Pix4D’s Pay-As-You-Go model is a great feature and isn’t offered by many other software providers. The 15-day trial gives you access to all of the features to be able to make an informed decision. You can then choose to pay as you use (one month at a time), pay annually or buy a lifetime licence.
If you want to accelerate your drone mapping expertise, COPTRZ offer Pix4D 4D Training Courses. This course was developed in response to requests from customers who wanted to get the most out of their subscription. The course takes you all the way through from data collection to processing and is great for beginners and more experienced drone surveyors.
Take a look at our recent Pix4D workflow webinar hosted by industry expert James Pick:
2) Best for Beginners: DJI TERRA
Use DJI Terra to capture, analyse and visualise your environment. DJI Terra is an easy to use mapping software developed to help you transform your drone data into digital assets.
If you’re just starting out with drone mapping, then look no further than DJI Terra, designed to help you create detailed 2D and 3D visuals from the data collected by your drone. DJI Terra offers unparalleled efficiency and user experience by allowing you to bulk import images and employ multiple graphics cards simultaneously all within its intuitively designed interface.
But don’t just take our word for it. Our industry expert James Pick recently captured this stunning data using the Phantom 4 RTK and processed it using DJI Terra. It’s almost a digital twin!
3) Best for Surveyors: Global Mapper
Price: $549 for a node-locked licence plus $549 for the LiDAR module if required
Global Mapper has been around for years. Originally created as a geospatial data viewing utility, Global Mapper has developed into an incredibly intuitive drone mapping software platform. If you’re looking for ‘bang for your buck’, Global Mapper will provide the most for the least.
With support for ‘virtually every known spatial data format’, as well as access to common spatial databases, Global Mapper is an exceptional tool for the GIS professional. For beginners, their support has excellent reviews and the forum is a fantastic source of information.
With tons of features and options such as cut and fill optimization, contour generation, volume measurements and line of sight modelling, Global Mapper can be used by almost anyone looking for a powerful tool to get the most out of drone data. The optional LiDAR module provides enhanced point cloud processing tools such as automatic point classification and feature extraction – great for asset mapping and infrastructure surveys.
Global Mapper also has versions available in different languages. You can download it in French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese and Turkish.
The downside: Compared to the other options, the Global Mapper model, interface and support options are a little antiquated. Standard support is via a ticket system but only if you pay. If you do not continue to pay for support and maintenance, you also don’t get access to the latest updates and versions as and when they are released.
It goes without saying that there will be more advancements in drone mapping software within the next 12 months. BVLOS, drone safety and security all remain hot topics where the software will undoubtedly play a part in fulfilling the potential drones have to offer.
Here is a 3D map using GlobalMapper and Pix4D comparing data from the Wingtra and Phantom 4 RTK
4) Best for software asset management and digital twins: trendspek
Trendspek is a cost effective drone data solution that helps businesses in their asset management strategy and process. Trendspek gives you a simple and powerful asset inspection system. Inspect, annotate, and organise your assets as 3d models or “digital twins”. Use drone data to make informed, defendable decisions.
Trendspek connects asset owners, operators and engineers, through a simple to use online platform. Form opinions, make decisions and reach outcomes faster by collaborating on a single data set.
From small assets to entire sites, Trendspek recreates reality to the millimetre and provides the tools and workflows to remotely inspect and plan; better than you could onsite.
With Trendspek you can:
✓Plan induction training
✓ Locate and identify defects and hazards
✓ Track defects and build maintenance plans
✓ Grant access to contractors and tenderers to accurately plan their scope of works
✓ Design shutdown plans including logistics and site access mapping
✓ Endless use cases
Watch Trendspek in action:
5) Best software for data presentation: Nira
You’ve collected your data, processed it and now you need to wow your client. Nira is what you need.
Nira is a collaborative platform capable of rendering massive 3D production assets in real time for interactive, web-based review on any device, including smartphones and tablets.
Nira is the perfect solution for product design, engineering, and other industries that require secure presentation, review, and organization of digital assets and designs.
Powerful & Secure
Nira supports real-time Physically-Based Rendering (PBR), with UDIM textures of up to 32K and polycounts in the billions on any device, including resource-constrained mobile hardware.
Moving large amounts of data is time-consuming and vulnerable to errors. With Nira, only server-rendered pixels are sent to client devices. Share your valuable designs confidently, without the risk of piracy or misuse.
Inspect & Review
Pinpoint production issues early using Nira’s built-in mesh and animation inspection tools. Match your pipeline’s unique look with pixel-perfect accuracy by integrating custom shaders or renderers.
Nira was built for 3D and non-3D experts alike, with support for various input and camera navigation methods including mouse/keyboard, stylus, touch, and AR.
Click the image below to explore Nira. The following file was created using images captured by a PhaseOne iXM camera, which was processed using Pix4D and transferred to Nira for client viewing.
✅ Best for Beginners: DJI Terra
✅ Best All-Round: Pix4D
✅ Best for Surveyors: GlobalMapper
✅ Best for Asset management trendspek
Access our Pix4D Resource Centre to access:
Articles on photogrammetry and software
Video walk-throughs of 3D maps created using Pix4D Software
Learn which software suits your needs; Pix4dmapper, Pix4Dreact or Pix4Dsurvey
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