Drone Surveying Startup Needs and Costs

I am looking to start utilizing drones in my Land Surveying and would like to know what is suggested for equipment and costs. I am looking at getting a Phantom 4 Pro V2.0, an iPad to operate DroneDeploy.

This is for a business with a few potential users.

Any insight is appreciated!

1 Like

Hi @KSJ-PLS! First things first, register your drone and get your Part 107 license… Anything you do business related before this happens is a violation of Federal regulations. Of course if it is your personal business then whose to say what is work vs personal time, but it can’t lead to direct profit.

If you already land survey and have the ability to set and collect Ground Control Points (GCPs) then a drone and an iPad and processing software are all you need. Hopefully if you are a surveyor you have some way to work with CAD files. That could be a big plus later on. Overall it’s a relatively low investment so even if it doesn’t work out the way you would have hoped you can get a return on the equipment without losing your hide, but I can guarantee that you’ll pay for the hardware in handful of decent size topos and you’ll pay for the solution easily with just 1 project per month. Just look at it as another crew member that only get’s paid two days a month. :slight_smile:

Look at DroneDeploy, Pix4D Mapper and Carlson PhotoCapture. You would use DroneDeploy flight regardless of processing software. DD and Pix4D are very similar - Pix4D also offers local processing on your own computer as a convenience, but unless you’re looking structural modeling then that is a waste of time for a land surveyor. DroneDeploy is far more powerful as far as the cloud presence and collaboration goes. Carlson is a really good processing software, but is pretty meager as compared to the other two outside of the fact that you still get the same data. Carlson’s strength is that it is a pay-as-you-go solution where you buy prepaid amounts of allotted processing memory. This is the way to go if you can’t budget a consistently monthly project for the drone.

Most softwares besides Carlson have 14-day trials so get some practical use on the free options from Pix4D before you ever use those up, but if you decide to go with DroneDeploy you will need the $299/mo business plan to get the DXF contours and GCPs.

1 Like

Thanks so much for the insight and information. It is helpful. I have a question also about the software for processing. I was ok with the cost for the business plan and then got a quote for enterprise and was shocked at the difference. Do you think business is enough to produce orthophotos and dxf contours/linework for surveying? I have attached the estimate I just received for the enterprise subscription. Yikes…