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A new volume measurement tool makes drone imagery easier to analyze

DroneDeploy’s latest app is available for all mobile devices. 

February 03, 2016 |

Drone imagery of map volumes—such as stockpiles of building materials—can now be measured and processed in the field, with accuracy that the software provider claims rivals laser scanning. Image: DroneDeploy

Still images that drones capture on flyovers are typically shot from above straight down, and then are “stitched” together and processed by software to create algorithms or 3D models.

Software that measures volumes within those images can be pricey, and data analysis confined to desktop computers. DroneDeploy, a provider of cloud-based software that is compatible with any UAS, is offering a more economical way to compute volumes on maps directly from the field.

On February 3, DroneDeploy made available to its current subscribers a new product that allows users to do real-time volume measurements on any mobile device.

This volumetric measurement tool includes an annotation toolbox that helps identify the flat surface around the stockpile to find the “underneath” of a pile in order to calculate its volume.

An elevation toolbox shows the elevation of every point on the map. Histograms show each elevation and the distribution of elevations on the map. The elevation tool measures the variance of each pixel to account for outliers on the site like towers, so the user can focus on measuring specifically the volume of interest within the image.

Darr Gerscovich, DroneDeploy’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, tells BD+C that this tool would be helpful for users who want to measure a mound of building materials on the site, such as a cement pile, to gauge whether there is sufficient quantity for the work being done.

This software can also give drone users a better understanding of the status of a project or whereabouts of equipment. Identifying drainage issues becomes more transparent, too.

Tests before this launch found that the volume measurements are accurate within 2% of traditional ground-base laser measurements.  

This volumetric analysis tool is available to DroneDeploy’s Pro and Precision subscribers. New subscribers can sign up for a free one-month trial, after the volumetric tool that’s part of the Pro package starts at $99 per month. The Precision package—which along with the volumetric tool offers sharper image resolution, dedicated engineering support, Ground Control Points and Custom Coord Systems—starts at $499 per month.

Gerscovich says the lower price and mobile flexibility are what separate this volumetric tool from others that are currently on the market. 

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