7 Best Drone Mapping Software to Complete Surveys Accurately (2023)

Drones have become a better part of our lives as they are being used in various industries.

Many construction sites, mining firms, and forestry and agriculture departments are taking advantage of drone mapping to increase efficiency, quality, and speed in their operations.

However, drone mapping is still new to most of these industries. Thus, the users must get things like the software choice right for the best results.

Drone mapping refers to using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones to capture aerial data with downward-facing sensors such as LIDAR payloads, multispectral cameras, or RGB.

During this exercise, the ground is photographed several times from various angles, and every image is tagged with coordinates. A 3D map with accurate measurements and GPS coordinates is created through Drone photogrammetry software.

Benefits of Drone Mapping Software

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  • Reduces field time and survey costs. Using drones to capture topographic pictures is five times more effective than land-based methods. You no longer have to place numerous GCPs when using a drone as it enables geotagging, thus reducing overall costs.
  • Can map inaccessible areas. Surveying can be tricky, especially when you come across inaccessible areas. Luckily, a drone can maneuver through most places and capture good images.
  • Provides exhaustive and accurate data. Unlike total stations that only measure individual points, a drone shot can produce thousands of measurements represented in various formats, such as orthomosaic, contour lines, point cloud, DTM, and DSM.

Things To Consider While Choosing A Drone Mapping Software

Compatible file formats

If you are a professional offering drone services, you will come across clients looking for different file formats. You may also need to open data collected using industry-standard software such as AutoCAD, Google Earth, and ArcGIS. Ensure that the drone mapping software you pick can export data in various formats.

End-to-end services

The ideal drone mapping software package should offer all the solutions needed in a mapping exercise. Such features should help you plan your flight, communicate with the drone while flying, record the data and save it on cloud or local storage, process it, and then export it to a suitable format.

Ease of use

If it is your first time dealing with a drone mapping software package, you will need a self-explanatory software application. Doing research will help you pick an application that is easy to use.

Collaborative environment

Some projects may require inputs from different users and data sources. The ideal software package should allow various team members to plan, schedule, and execute a drone mission.

The following are some of the best drone mapping software applications you can try today.


According to its official website, Pix4D is the “leading photogrammetry software for professional drone mapping”. This drone mapping tool suits advanced users.

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Pix4D offers a free trial, while the paid version starts from $291/month for the Pix4DMapper.

Key Features

  • Comes in different versions for different purposes. You can always pick a software package that suits you, as the company has Pix4DMapper for mapping, Pix4Dbim for construction, Pix4Dag for agriculture, and Pix4Dmodel for 3D modeling.
  • Multilingual. This software application supports languages such as English, Russian, German, French, Japanese, Spanish, Mandarin, Italian and Korean.
  • Automated processing. Pix4D can automatically extract still frames from videos to create a new project. This software package also processes images with or without known camera exterior orientations.

Maps Made Easy

Maps Made Easy allows users to achieve perfect coverage and overlap through simple control of the flight pattern, flight speed, and camera frame rate.

Maps Made Easy has a Pay-as-you-go plan with rates as low as $0.016/image. You can also opt for a subscription-based model with a free tier and paid subscription from $5/month.

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Key Features

  • 3D model-based stitching. Maps Made Easy uses cutting-edge methods to create maps. This software application combines several looks, and stunningly accurate orthophoto maps are exported after processing.
  • Stockpile Volume Measurement. Measuring and tracking stockpile volumes is quick and easy through Maps Made Easy’s web-based volume measurements. You don’t have to buy expensive external software as you can measure directly from the web browser.
  • Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) Processing. NDVI is a graphical indicator that analyzes remote sensing measurements and assesses whether the target has healthy vegetation.
  • Map Pilot App for iOS and Android. You can plan and control your flight using your smartphone. You just need to specify your survey area, select the level of detail, and fly, and the app will perform the rest.


AgiSoftMetashape was designed to process photogrammetry data. Thus, you can easily process images and generate 3D spatial data quickly and accurately.

AgiSoft offers a 30-day free trial, and pricing starts from $155.90/ month.

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Key Features

  • Several output options. AgiSoft Metashape has various output options, depending on your needs.
  • Elaborate model editing. The package allows further reconstruction through the automatic multi-class points classification.
  • DSM/DTM generation. Depending on your project, you can generate either a Digital Surface Mornd/or a Digital Terrain Model.


  • AgiSoft Metashape is not an end-to-end drone mapping solution, as it was designed as a processing solution.


Correlator3D software from Simactive allows you to process large mapping projects and deliver high-quality results from satellite imagery, drone, or aircraft.

Simactive offers a free trial and flexible payment plans at $295 per month.

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Key Features

  • Flexible Modular Architecture. There are a lot of things you can achieve from Correlator3D, from Aerial Triangulation, DTM Extraction, DSM & Point Cloud Generation, 3D Model Generation, Mosaic Creation to Orthorectification.
  • Distributed Processing. Batch processing accelerates processing speed and you can thus deliver big projects fast.
  • Powerful Editing Tools. There are several options to choose from, such as GCP Creation, Tie Point Editing, DEM Editing, Mosaic Editing, and 3D Feature Extraction.

Virtual Surveyor

Virtual Surveyor is a software application suitable for topographic surveying, construction earthworks, mining & quarrying, and stockpile inventory. The application comes with various tools to help optimize your project accurately.

Virtual Surveyor offers a free plan, while the paid plans start from $125 per user per month.

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Key Features

  • Collaboration. You can connect your dropbox and access your files from anywhere. You can also share your shots externally and manage access rights.
  • Easily combine data from fieldwork, drones, and CAD. If you have data from GPS or the total station, you can feed it to a virtual surveyor for more accurate results.
  • Different view angles. If you are mapping linear features or need to prepare a report, a 2D map view will be ideal. However, you can go for a 3D want to analyze topography and/or compare it with a design.

3DF Zephyr

3DF Zephyr from 3DFlow allows users to reconstruct 3D models from photos automatically. This photogrammetry software solution can also deal with any 3D scanning or reconstruction challenge.

3DF Zephyr offers a free plan, while the paid versions start from €149.00 + VAT.

Key Features

  • Multi-GPU support. Zephyr’s multi-GPU support gives you control over 3D reconstruction steps.
  • Versatile to many applications. You can apply 3DF Zephyr to hundreds of projects, scenarios, and applications. Just define your goals, and the tool will take care of the rest.
  • Various models are available. 3DF Zephyr goes beyond 3D as you can get Digital Terrain and Surface models (DTM, DSM), true orthophotos, project reports, and stats.

Open Drone Map

Open Drone Map is a software application that uses aerial images to generate maps, DEMs, point clouds, and 3D models.It has pay-as-you-go and subscription-based models starting from $29 / Month.

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Key Features

  • Orthomosaics. You can process georeferenced, orthorectified maps using this software application.
  • Ground Control Points. You can create and use GCPs for additional accuracy.
  • Multiple export formats. You can export your files as GeoTIFF, LAS/LAZ, PNG, OBJ, and OGC 3D Tiles formats.
  • Different models are available. Open Drone Map produces textured 3D models in OBJ and OGC 3D Tiles format. There are also georeferenced digital elevation models (DSMs and DTMs)

Industries Benefitting From Drone Mapping Software

Construction and infrastructure

Using drone mapping software, construction professionals can map large or unreachable areas for pre-built evaluation. Other uses in the construction industry are tracking construction progress and 3D modeling of sites.


Multispectral imagery from such a tool will come in handy in identifying plant problems and providing accurate plant counts. Collected data be used to prevent the costly spread of invasive species or diseases.

Mining and aggregates

Drone Mapping Software improves the management efficiency of large quarries and mining sites. Some of the uses of such software in mining include;

  • Hazard identifications
  • Slope monitoring
  • Assessment before blasting or drilling
  • Inventory and management of stockpile volume

Wildlife management

Modern researchers and conservationists use drones to monitor land changes and track wildlife movements.

Author’s Note

To utilize drone mapping software to its full potential, it should be handled by a professional. The choice of a drone will also influence the final results, and you should thus ensure you get the right pick.

Wrapping Up

Drone Mapping is now becoming attractive to professional drone flyers worldwide. The choice of Drone Mapping Software will depend on the needs, ease of use, and familiarity with the software features. However, to understand this field and produce perfect maps, the user must first master the fundamentals of map projections, remote sensing, and 3D modeling.

You may also explore some geospatial tools for mapping & data visualization.

(Video) Beginner Tips for Drone Mapping - My Workflow


Which is the most preferred software for drone data processing? ›

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.

Which is better DroneDeploy or PIX4D? ›

Choosing one over the other will come down to the scale of your operation and budget. While the entry-level is lower with DroneDeploy, it is limited in options. Pix4D, on the other hand, offers the whole package at a lower price. However, there is no Live Map equivalent, which you may need.

What kind of software do drones use? ›

Drones, UGVs and unmanned marine vessels may make use of AI (artificial intelligence) software such as deep learning algorithms, either via onboard computing platforms or cloud services. This may be used to carry out functions such as autonomous navigation, obstacle avoidance and image recognition.

What is the best app for my drone? ›

The Best Drone App (Mac, Android)
  • Airmap.
  • B4UFly.
  • Hover.
  • Google Maps.
  • Tesla Field Recorder.
  • Kittyhawk.
  • Litchi.
  • DJI Go.

How do drones use surveying? ›

How to do a drone survey?
  1. Check before you leave the office. Check the local regulations and make sure that you are allowed to fly your drone at the planned location. ...
  2. Plan your flight. ...
  3. Set up your flight in the field. ...
  4. Fly and collect images. ...
  5. Geotag your images.

How accurate is drone mapping? ›

Drone maps created using good quality drone equipment, careful flight planning, commercial grade GPS ground control points and commercial grade processing software can potentially be accurate to around 2-3cm horizontally and around 5-6cm vertically.

What is the most realistic drone simulator? ›

Velocidrone is one of the best game-based FPV flight simulators in terms of the physics and ability to customize your quad and your flight environment. The flight controls and customizability make practice flights with the program feel very realistic, for better transfer to the real world.

What drone can be used for surveying? ›

Best entry level survey drone: DJI Phantom 4 RTK

For an entry level drone that's designed for aerial surveying and 3d mapping, look no further than the new DJI Phantom 4 RTK. Built specifically with surveyors in mind, the Phantom 4 RTK incorporates a 1″ CMOS 20mp camera to give you sharp and detailed images.

How accurate is PIX4D? ›

More specifically, accuracy of the outputs should be close to 1-2 pixels (GSD) horizontally (XY) and 2-3 pixels (GSD) vertically (Z). If you want to keep the accuracy (relative and absolute) as high as possible then you will want to keep your GSD as low as possible.

What is the best free mapping software? ›

Top 10 Free GIS Software in 2022
  • Maptitude.
  • Surfer.
  • MapInfo Pro.
  • Scribble Maps.
  • Geopointe.
  • Global Mapper.
  • eSpatial.
  • MapBusinessOnline.

How much does drone software cost? ›

The cost of a show is priced on a per drone basis ranging between $350 and $700 per drone, depending on a variety of factors such as show complexity, location, and planning timeline.

Is there a universal app for drones? ›

The free DroneDeploy app is the leading software for drones with millions of flights flown by over 100,000 pilots! Download the DroneDeploy app to upgrade your drone with autonomous and free flight capabilities for automated capture in just a few taps. Your drone will fly itself! Anyone can fly with DroneDeploy.

How do police detect drones? ›

The major thing that differentiates police drones from other drones is their strobe light. Police strobe lights have blue and red colors. If you are a few meters away from a police drone at night, one side of the drone will have a red light and the other side will have a blue light.

Is Map Pilot Pro free? ›

Collect top notch aerial data using Map Pilot Pro and process unlimited jobs of up to 325 images (12 megapixels) for free with Maps Made Easy.

Do drone detection apps work? ›

Is there an app to detect drones? Aerial Armor is proud to offer the first drone detection app that is available on both Apple and Android mobile devices. Our app is only available to customers who have our drone detection equipment installed or subscribe to our detection data network.

How do I start drone surveying? ›

5 steps to start drone surveying
  1. Step1: Define your project.
  2. Step 2: Get your training.
  3. Step 3: Choose your Hardware.
  4. Step 4: RTK Licenses.
  5. Step 5: Post processing & software.
  6. Photogrammetry in its essence is the capture of many high-resolution images over an area. ...
  7. Key products include:
28 Jan 2022

How do you capture survey drones? ›

Survey Drones are little flying robot Collectibles that can be found scanning each biome of the Forbidden West, which Aloy can collect by jumping onto them to recover their data. She can then use this data to change the cosmetics of a room in the game.

How do I get survey drone modules? ›

Just hop up some rocks near the ruins and you should see a path that takes you to a roof with a rusted turret. Jump off the turret when the drone is close enough, and it will crash down on the ground. Just loot its contents, Module 047, and you're done.

Are drone surveys accurate? ›

Over the past several years drones have fundamentally changed the way construction and earthworks companies analyze and manage their worksites by delivering accurate, reliable survey data.

How accurate is drone topographic survey? ›

A drone survey that boasts 2 CM accuracy will be as accurate as another type of survey that boasts 2 CM accuracy. Best-in-class UAV mapping technologies can currently resolve surveying sites to 1 CM of accuracy.

Does Google use drones for mapping? ›

At the Google I/O 2022 keynote, CEO Sundar Pichai debuted a new feature coming to Google Maps that gives users a drone-level aerial view of cities, offering a helpful middle ground between satellite and street views.

What drone Do Navy Seals use? ›

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV): ScanEagle

One of the operational advantages of the ScanEagle is its flexible catapult launch capability and skyhook recovery system, which is essentially a rope hanging from a 50 foot pole. It can be flown from forward battlefields, mobile vehicles and small boats such as the Mark V SOC.

Which simulator uses high accuracy? ›

SPICE simulators use highly accurate non-linear and linear models of electronic devices to analyze the behavior of the circuit.

What simulation does NASA use? ›

Space Launch Systems (SLS)

S3 is an integration of the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) ARTEMIS software simulation and the JSTAR developed hardware models of the SLS flight computers. ARTEMIS provides accurate software models of the sensors, actuators, and communications within the SLS launch vehicle.

What kind of GPS do surveyors use? ›

To achieve the highest level of accuracy, most survey-grade receivers use two GPS radio frequencies: L1 and L2. Currently, there is no fully functional civilian signal at L2, so these receivers leverage a military L2 signal using "codeless" techniques.

What technology do surveyors use? ›

GPS Technology

Technology is a huge part of modern land survey advances. Advances in land survey technology are often the focus of ongoing education.

What device do surveyors use? ›

The main surveying instruments in use around the world are the theodolite, measuring tape, total station, 3D scanners, GPS/GNSS, level and rod. Most instruments screw onto a tripod when in use. Tape measures are often used for measurement of smaller distances.

Is LiDAR more accurate than photogrammetry? ›

If you're surveying land with dense vegetation where light pulses can still penetrate between branches and leaves, lidar yields high vertical accuracy. This is a significant advantage over photogrammetry, as photogrammetric surveying will only produce high vertical accuracy when there is sparse vegetation on site.

How much RAM does a Pix4D need? ›

For most projects, 32GB of RAM is recommended. When processing large datasets or images of high resolution (projects with more than 1000 images or projects with images of 40 MP or more) a minimum of 32 GB RAM is recommended.

How accurate is Meshroom? ›

It can be noted that Meshroom provided a high level of accuracy of the resulted 3D recon- struction. This can be related to the compact, three- dimensional shape of the object and the convergent type of object surveying, which provide data that is more favorable for an accurate photogrammetric re- construction.

Which type of mapping is the most accurate? ›

View the world in correct proportions with this map. You may not know this, but the world map you've been using since, say, kindergarten, is pretty wonky. The Mercator projection map is the most popular, but it is also riddled with inaccuracies.

Which map app is most accurate? ›

7 Best Map apps of 2022
  • Google Maps. The veteran app, Google Maps, is everyone's go-to app when it comes to looking for directions. ...
  • Waze. Regarding predicting traffic accuracy, Waze trumps all other navigation apps, including the veteran app Google Maps. ...
  • AllTrails. ...
  • Apple Maps. ...
  • Citymapper. ...
  • Roadtrippers. ...
  • MapOut.
29 Jun 2022

Which map service is most accurate? ›

After 120 trips, he found that Google Maps was the app that got him to his destinations the quickest. Arthur Grabowski wrote about his findings on his blog, and he didn't stop at simple speed tests. Even though Google was found to be quick, it was Apple Maps that turned out to be the most accurate.

Is Google mapping free? ›

With Google Maps Platform flexible pricing, daily quotas, and 28,500 maploads per month for no charge, it's easy to stay on budget.

Is there a free mapping software? ›

Google My Maps

It's an easy to learn tool that allows you to upload and update information from Google Sheets as well as share maps with additional users.

Is there a better map app than Google? ›

Waze Maps can help businesses collect data in real-time from users. On Waze, you get traffic info, shortcuts, and adjusted routes. The road maps are created based on the road surface or road quality. The Waze mobile app is better than many other navigation tools out there.

How much can you make drone mapping? ›

Surveying and mapping engineer—Salary: $115,000

By using drones, they can reduce the time and expense of the surveys as well as the burden that's placed on field professionals who use traditional methods. This industry advantage is putting these drone pilots—surveying and mapping engineers—in high demand.

Is drone mapping in demand? ›

The global drone mapping software market is 5.99 USD billion in 2021 and it is expected to reach 21.96 USD billion in the year 2031 at a registering CAGR of 14.08% over the forecast period.

How much can you charge for drone mapping? ›

In most cases, the national average drone land survey can cost between $30 and $120 per acre. It can be even higher or lower than that depending on the type of survey and the amount of time needed to complete the work.

Is drone programming easy? ›

Drone programming might sound difficult and tricky to do but, actually, it's easier than you might think. A few simple instructions to get you started in the right direction and you'll be on your way to creating your own program for your drone.

Can you make money with drone shots? ›

Most pay a commission to the photographer when the photo or video is sold. Rates typically differ for exclusive photos and non-exclusive photos, but this can make for a nice way to earn passive income. Here are a few sites where you could sell your drone photos or video: Alamy: Up to 50% commission.

What is the best program to edit drone footage? ›

7 Best Drone Video Editing Software in 2022
  • VideoProc (Wins, Mac)
  • Final Cut Pro.
  • iMovie.
  • Windows Movie Maker.
  • VSDC Video Editor.
  • Davinci Resolve.
  • Adobe Premiere Pro.
9 Nov 2022

How do you bypass drone restrictions? ›

Self-unlocking is the process of manually overriding the DJI no-fly zones' restrictions. This can be done by connecting your drone to a computer and using special software to change the drone's GPS coordinates.

Is drone harmony app free? ›

now for free! Start enjoying the most advanced mission planning app on the market. Get it from Google Play Store for free!

Is there an app to detect drones for iPhone? ›

AirMap is the leading global provider of aeronautical data & services to unmanned aircraft, or drones. Use AirMap to maintain situational awareness, request digital authorization, get traffic alerts, & more.

Which software is commonly used for processing of data? ›

Hadoop. Apache Hadoop tool is a big data framework which allows distribution of large data processing across various connected computers. It can scale up from a single server to thousands of different machines. It involves authentication improvements while using HTTPS proxy server for added security.

What is drone data processing? ›

Drone Data Processing Solutions

Processing the data using software installed on a local desktop computer or network, Uploading the data to a cloud-based system for automated processing, Giving the data to experienced professionals who will handle the processing.

Which programming language is used to program a drone? ›

Python. Python is among the most popular drone languages because of its built-in libraries and beginner-friendliness. Python is used to write the code for programming drones.

What are the 3 types of software? ›

There are different types of software that can run on a computer: system software, utility software, and application software.

What are the three 3 important kinds of data processing? ›

There are three main data processing methods - manual, mechanical and electronic.

Which software is most widely used for data management? ›

What is the best database management software? Google Cloud Platform, MongoDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Microsoft SQL Server, are the best database management software products based on user reviews and user popularity, according to the 2021 Capterra Shortlist.

What are the 4 elements of data processing system? ›

The four main stages of data processing cycle are:
  • Data collection.
  • Data input.
  • Data processing.
  • Data output.

Is drone used for mapping and GIS? ›

Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) are an indispensable tool for many modern industries with drones (unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which are flexible tools able to satisfy a wide range of professional needs.

Can you code a drone with Python? ›

What you need to program a drone using Python. A computer (and in turn, a drone) needs hardware, firmware (code that commands the hardware) and software to function. If you're programming a drone, we'll assuming you already have the hardware ready to go (those are the propellers, motors, batteries, etc).

Is Python used in drones? ›

Python is commonly used for developing websites and software, task automation, data analysis, and data visualization. Since it's relatively easy to learn, Python has been adopted by many non-programmers such as accountants and scientists, for a variety of everyday tasks, like organizing finances.

What is the number 1 best video editing app? ›

21 Best Video Editing Apps for Android, iPhone & iPad in 2022
  • VivaVideo.
  • Videoshop.
  • Magisto.
  • Funimate.
  • InShot.
  • Vizmato.
  • FilmoraGo.
  • VideoShow.
7 Sept 2022

What is the best free drone video editing software? ›

5 Best Free Video Editors for Drone Footage
  • VSDC Free Video Editor (Windows)
  • iMovie (iOS, Mac)
  • Davinci Resolve (Windows, Mac, Linux)
  • HitFilm Express (Windows, Mac)
  • Lightworks (Windows, Mac, Linux)


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