Small Drones accelerate and improve stockpile reporting for mines and earth work supervision.

Not only are they the safest, quickest method of quickly taking a snapshot of an entire highly dynamic site, they significantly reduce surveying costs. Adding powerful structure from motion (SfM) software and virtual survey tools to the equation means no boots on the ground and no need for interrupting any operations.

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Comment by Dan Murray on January 31, 2015 at 12:08pm

I did this for a customer of mine at a construction site. They had two large piles of fill. I was doing an aerial survey anyway, so I figured I'd give them the volume of the fill dirt just for fun. 

Turns out the surveyors had spent half the previous day estimating the volume, and I came within a couple hundred cubic yards of their estimate in about 15 minutes ;) They were pretty blown away.

Comment by Waladi on January 31, 2015 at 4:16pm
Is all features generated from single software processing such as Photoscan?
And do you need obligue photos to increase stock pile calculation accuracy?

Comment by Dan Murray on January 31, 2015 at 4:30pm

I can't speak for Walter, but I did most of mine in GlobalMapper

Comment by Walter Volkmann on February 1, 2015 at 1:43am

I use GloablMapper as well but for the visualizations and virtual surveying we prefer to use Virtual Surveyor Tool, which is what we used in this video. GlobalMapper is OK for heads-up digitizing, Virtual Surveyor embeds you in a 3D environment in which you can visualize and measure simultaneously.

Comment by Walter Volkmann on February 1, 2015 at 7:46am

@Waladi, we did not investigate the effect of oblique photography on accuracy. Something still on the to do list.

Comment by Paul Meier on February 1, 2015 at 8:00am

@ Dan Murray

would you be so kind and briefly explain how it works ?

Or are you using LiDar and then extrapolating the volumes ?

Thanks in advance

Comment by Dan Murray on February 1, 2015 at 11:09am

To be honest, Walters results look far better to me, but briefly:

  • Run a survey with UAV, collect georeferenced images
  • Process with PhotoScan
  • Export as GeoTIFF (I think that's what I did)
  • Import into GlobalMapper
  • Use volume tool to calculate volume

The longest part of this process is going to be PhotoScan, depending on how big your area is. I have a dual Xeon server with GPUs and it still takes a couple of hours to do ~150 acres, but it will be significantly less if you have a smaller area.

I haven't done anything scientific regarding oblique photography, but I can say that having a good amount of sidelap is very helpful. I haven't tried it, but you could probably increase accuracy by taking some photos from the ground, too.

Comment by Paul Meier on February 1, 2015 at 11:32am

@ Dan

Thank you very much for your time.

Please so how (where) does the altitude reference coming from ? Or does PhotoScan use focus values to do altitude?

Comment by Jimmy Oliver on February 2, 2015 at 1:15pm

What would be the best software recommendation for Volume Measurement (aggregates) at quarries, etc.? I am looking at Pix4D but it is wildly expensive. 

Comment by Walter Volkmann on February 2, 2015 at 1:31pm

@Jimmy Oliver please contact Oliver  at He can give you more information.


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