High School Drone Surveying Project



Hi, my name is Joey and I am currently attending Eastern Technical High School in Maryland. I am taking an AP Research class and I have taken the opportunity to do a project for this school year. I will be writing an academic paper comparable to a published college report and make a presentation at the end of the class.

With my great interest in civil engineering and drone technology, I have created a research question regarding the feasibility that I could properly survey my school and generate a topographical map. The main focus of this project would be to explore the effectiveness that a cost-effective drone could be used on surveying land compared to other methods. One of the biggest problems that I’ve seen in surveying for civil engineers was the cost. Some industrial tools have hefty price tags and are simply unattainable for smaller companies or even for the public. However, this is where I found DroneDeploy, a unique program capable of surveying a piece of land with an app connected to a common device. I was wondering whether or not I could receive help in order to accomplish this research project by using DroneDeploy’s program and comparing it to my school’s previous land survey (that was done almost thirty to forty years ago) to examine its efficiency.

Unfortunately, as a high school student, my knowledge about drone surveying is novice compared to many on this website. I also only have a DJI Spark drone which isn’t fully compatible with the app. Do you guys think you could help me with this research project with DroneDeploy as my base program in order to obtain data/results? It would mean a tremendous amount of support and give me a backbone to my research project.

Joey Chamera


Yes, Surveying and Engineering are expensive. Both take allot of calculation time, especially when vertical benchmarks are to be set. That is where you easily pay for a drone program. You might even gain if it is well executed.

A few quick things…
-Keep in mind that while your end goal is the topographical map, but there is allot more information automatically collected at the same time.
-Creating a geometrically correct map is one thing, but a map that is relative to a certified topo is another because of the way the GPS elevations are calculated. This means you will need Ground Control Points (GCPs) in order to relate to that existing topo. This also means that you will need the ability to accurately collect the coordinates including elevations.

If I were you I would make the map without GCPs, but mention them. Use some of the other views/data as well. You can find out more about them at support.dronedeploy.com by searching for “gcp”.

You are correct that the Spark is not officially supported. I have seen instances where people have gotten it to work with other processing softwares, but have not seen so with DroneDeploy.

Feel free to message me any time.


If I were to use just the regular program and route the survey would this data be comparable to standard land surveys?

Also I’m unsure as to how I can obtain a more compatible drone :confused:

Thanks for the information so far however!


The problem is because the GPS does not use sea level for the elevations so unfortunately GCPs are needed. You might have a good chance of getting a drone service provider to participate.


Oh, and if you look at the survey it may have a vertical benchmark on it. You can then do a crude calibration of the elevations in DroneDeploy. Not as accurate, but if flown correctly it should get the point across.
If the map you have is the grading before the school was built then it will be different anyway.