Topographic Survey

Hi all, our team is looking into acquiring a quadcopter for undertaking survey work, being roading, parks, buildings ect.  We are looking to achieve accuracy of 20mm or better using tight ground control, this would be setout with a robotic total station. 

Currently we are looking into a copter such as the DJI S1000, our thinking is more blades equals better lift and also redundancy should a blade be damaged or fail. Camera wise I have looked at the Sony DSC-RX 1, which looks to be a good quality camera for this type of work, and I have seen it mentioned on another forum here. From what I have read I would not be wanting less than 20MP. 

Regarding camera's, is anyone using medium format cameras for drone surveying? If so any recommendations?

In genearal I am wanting to get peoples thoughts on what we are wanting to do, and also thoughts on components. Being a complete noob with regards to drones, are there any recommendations regarding mounts (keeping verticality, vibration softning etc).

Software wie we are probably looking at Bently Acute3D, mainly due to the fact that our schemers here use bently microstation. Pix4d seems to be very popular though.



You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones

Email me when people reply –


  • Hi Jed 

    Did you buy an Altus ? I ask, as we are a local Tauranga Company and we produce a neat unit, Y6 Ti series,  titanium folding arms and flight time of between 20 - 30mins min .. depending on load .. it also comes with bayonet cam lock quick detach gimbal so its easy to swap out payloads quickly with no fuss.. standard use of Sony cameras .. and all in one control station .. and 5Km radio range  ..All supplied with the UAV in a neat pelican case. and we are much more competitively priced than Altus, We are CAA approved for training and provide full no cost support for 6 months.....interested ? why not send me a message .. 

    P.s We also do a lot of survey work here in the Bay .. with a few big contractors like F&H .. our Z heights are pretty good at sub 20mm 

    • Hi Reuben, the purchase hasn't happened quite yet, but we have settled on purchasing the Altus drone, and are well on the way to getting everything sorted out.

      Thanks for letting me know about your product though, and I am interested in having a look at what you have to offer. If you are happy to flick through some information on the product please flick me a message with some details, image etc. We can then keep this on record for any potential future purchases, or if things don't go ahead for whatever reason it could be another option.

      • Hi Jed ... I did not get a notification of your reply .. so i have only just seen it now .. perhaps if you respond to my friend request i can send you some info also need your email address .. I dont want to post info on here ..cheers R

  • One of the big things for us is that the drone has a parachute built on. Another drone we were looking at the warranty would have been voided if we added a parachute. We wanted the parachute because we will be working along road corridors doing road topos, so it will add that extra bit of safety. The dual blade system also looks really good, adding self stabilization, and with it adds redundancy that we would otherwise have to get through additional arms. Being a NZ company also means we have good support, and so far they have been excellent to deal with. And being new to this good support will be important. I am not sure what other drones come with, but it also has a practice drone that is setup with the control station.

    The control system for this also looks excellent. Altus Drone Image

    The image is from another local company that is also surveying using the Altus drone, cant see alot in the image but gives a good indication of the setup.

    • Hi Jed,  Did you get the Altus?  We have been doing surveying with a drone for about a year now.  We use a DJI s900/pixhawk/a variety of cameras and lenses.  We have slowly gotten the accuracy down to .08' or less in the Z, and about the same in the xy over smooth terrain.  Sharp curves and even pavement are tricky.  We lay a lot of ground control, 10-30 points/job which runs from 20-400 acres, with frequent autotopo over a site to verify the z.   I've noticed that a lot of our clients, which are surveyors, don't have the computing power to deal with the photogrammetry in an efficient way.  Something to look at if you are new to the process.  After hundreds of jobs, I've discovered that everything matters.  Camera, lens, sun, speed, altitude, terrain features, RTK, GCPs, etc.  It all has to good to get good results.  FYI:  we amortize the drone over 100 hours of flight, and replace all the motors/esc/arms if she makes it (so far so good).  It is completely revolutionary, to have 300 million points in x,y,z and color over a 100 acres with accuracy that rivals RTK ground systems where each point is collected one at a time.

  • Just for anyone who was keeping an eye on the post, it is most likely that we will get an Altus drone.

    • What made you decide on the Altus? Its a pricey unit. I have been looking at them also. 

This reply was deleted.


Laurie J. Troy liked Jasper Kueppers's profile
Apr 1
Timothy Miller liked Joseph Udofia's profile
Mar 18
Joseph Udofia liked Joseph Udofia's profile
Mar 3