Best Drone for 3D Mapping in large scale


I am writing to inquire about the best drone for 3D mapping on a large scale. I am a professional surveyor and I need a reliable and accurate drone that can cover a wide area and produce high-quality 3D and 2D models of the terrain.

The areas I will be making maps include Large Cities, Farmlands, Countryside, Roads and Highways, etc. Basically a 3D and 2D model of a whole city. The accuracy must be centimeter level.

I know you guys may ask about my budget. Let me assure you that my team is being funded by the Government.

I looked upon the Matrice 350 RTK with both L2 and P1 cameras but am unsure which to go for or both. Also, I need to know if I can divide the mapping area of a city among different drones. The Autel Dragonfish also made me curious but I don’t know about it much.

I’m asking for advice regarding a suitable drone for this task. Whether it is a VTOL, or a Quadcopter or a helicopter. The absolute best is needed. Please feel free to share your opinions.

Also, another question arose in my mind. That is Can I use both Lidar and Photogrammetry images and stitch them together to form both 3D point clouds with Orthomosaic?

The key requirements are:

3D Point Clouds
DTM and
3D Mesh

Another question, Can I map a large city with 5-10 drones at once from one control point? This way, I may be able to map a city in 2-3 hours

Are you in the US? If so there is a good chance that a government entity may not allow the use of a DJI drone. If you are certain you can then yes the M350 with an L2 might be a good place to start. If your funding is adequate I would look into a Rock R3 Pro. It is quite a bit more than the L2 but is probably more accurate and with their ability to do SLAM is definitely more versatile. The L2 by spec looks like an amazing upgrade from the L1 but is brand new and unproven. I have seen some great accuracy reports but bugs will almost indefinitely pop up as more people adopt it. The P1 is great but as a PLS you are going to need something capable of getting through vegitation for sure. You can do a lot with a P1 and a good point cloud editing software but add that cost and time and if you fly often you will pay for the extra cost very quickly. Are you planning on doing planimetrics? That would be the only reason I would recommend the P1 over LiDAR but the RGB sensor on the L2 is spec’d very well. Ideally you’ll eventually want both.

1 Like

no no. I’m not from the US. I live in Bangladesh where there are no regulations on consumer drones. And the licensing and ordering of the drone I want will be done by the government. I just need to do their mapping work for the drone to be officially mine. They are willing to give me any drone I want with any budget. The only thing they are asking is I make an Orthomosaic, a 3D point cloud and a DTM map of a city.

So, is it good to order 4 M350 with L2 and Ground Station? or 2 with L2 and 2 with R3Pro? I don’t know anything about these as these are now available in Bangladesh. Maybe I’ll be the first person to bring in these equipments. The Army here use VTOLs and the Police use Autel drones. Matrice series drones are nowhere to be seen in BD

1 Like

I can’t really say one way or the other because I don’t know what your subject looks like or your end goal but I can tell you that the P1 is going to give your the best visible model (textured mesh) with photogrammetry. Next would be the L2’s RGB camera and last would the the RGB camera on the Rock R3Pro. The reverse is that the R3Pro is going to be the best LiDAR and the most geometrically accurate but not as nice of a visual model. I guess the question to ask yourself is how much penetration of vegitation and similar obstructions is needed and is it more important to have 2-3cm accurate structure or would 4-5cm with better visual be more appropriate.

1 Like