Choosing the right software is essential when using drones to collect data. For photogrammetry, LiDAR, or asset inspection, this type of software transforms raw data into 2D and 3D digital assets, which inspection operatives use to make critical decisions. Mapping software is continually evolving, so keep reading for our latest recommendations for the best Drone Mapping software for 2022.
Best Drone Mapping Software: Pix4D
Price: Free 15-Day Trial, then scaled from €216.67 per month and to €3,990 for a lifetime licence
Pix4D has long been involved with drone mapping software. Pix4D Mapper, a pioneer in revolutionary photogrammetry software, was created exclusively for professional drone mapping applications. Pix4D Mapper, like Agisoft’s Metashape, supports RGB, thermal, and multi-spectral imaging.
Pix4D Mapper automates drone flight and picture data sharing and gives survey-grade results down to the centimetre level. It’s simple to measure surface, distance, volume, and elevation, but Pix4D’s assistance is second to none if you get stuck. If your project is simple, default templates enable quick and easy processing of photogrammetric point clouds.
There’s a thriving ‘Community’ forum and free online tutorials. 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.
The development of industry-specific drone mapping possibilities is Pix4D’s most distinctive feature. Civil Engineering, Agriculture, Engineering, Mining, Public Safety, Education, and Construction have solutions.
Each package addresses the specific issues of drone mapping in each area while finding answers to inherent problems. For example, while completing automated stockpile calculations, the Mining software package can assist in identifying concerns with slope stability and other geohazards. Suppose you’re looking for drone mapping software for construction. In that case, you’ll find options for cut-and-fill calculations, excavation comparisons and topographic surveys.
Pix4D’s Pay-As-You-Go concept is a fantastic feature that few other software providers give. The 15-day trial offers you access to all the features to make an informed decision. You can then choose to pay monthly, yearly, or purchase a lifetime licence.
If you want to improve your drone mapping skills, COPTRZ offers Pix4D 4D Training Courses. This course was created in response to customer requests to get the most out of their subscriptions. The training covers data collection to processing and is suitable for beginners and more experienced drone surveyors.
Take a look at Pix4D workflow webinar hosted by industry expert James Pick:
Best for Beginners: DJI TERRA
Price: £270 per year (up to 3 devices)
Using DJI Terra can capture, analyse, and visualise your surroundings. 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. DJI Terra provides unprecedented efficiency and user experience by allowing you to mass load photos and utilises several graphics cards at the same time, all from inside its simple UI.
Don’t just take our word for it, though. Our industry specialist James Pick captured and analysed this spectacular data with the Phantom 4 RTK and DJI Terra. It’s almost like having a digital twin!
Best for Surveyors: Global Mapper
Price: Free trial and prices starting from $599
Global Mapper has been around for a long time. Global Mapper began as a geospatial data viewing tool and has evolved into an extraordinarily user-friendly drone mapping software platform. If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, Global Mapper is the way to go.
Global Mapper is an excellent resource for any GIS expert, supporting “nearly every known geographic data type” and providing access to standard spatial databases. Their service has received outstanding ratings from newcomers, and the forum is a wealth of information.
With a plethora of capabilities and choices, such as cut and fill optimisation, contour generation, volume measurements, and line of sight modelling, Global Mapper is suitable for nearly anyone searching for a robust tool to extract the most from drone data. The optional LiDAR module enhances point cloud processing tools, including automatic point categorisation and feature extraction, making it ideal 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 old-fashioned. It would help if you continued to pay for support and maintenance to access the latest updates and versions as and when they are released. Standard support is via a ticket system, but only if you pay.
There will be more advancements in drone mapping software within the next 12 months. BVLOS, drone safety and security remain hot topics where the software will undoubtedly play a part in fulfilling the potential drones offer.
Here is a 3D map using GlobalMapper and Pix4D comparing data from the Wingtra and Phantom 4 RTK
Best for software asset management and digital twins: Trendspek
Make informed and justified decisions using drone data. Trendspek is a low-cost drone data system that assists organisations with asset management strategies and processes. This software provides an easy-to-use asset inspection solution. As 3D models or “digital twins,” inspect, annotate, and organise your assets.
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.
This solution recreates reality to the millimetre and provides the tools and workflows to inspect and plan; better than you could onsite remotely, from small assets to entire sites.
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:
Best software for data presentation: Nira
You’ve collected your data, and 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.
This 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
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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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