How Accurate is Drone Surveying

As Accurate as You Want it to Be

Drone Surveying precisionWhen we’re contacted to provide a drone survey, we’ll first ask what tolerances the client is working to. Typically, the greater the accuracy required, the more expensive the service. In some cases, this will dictate the type of camera we use, the altitude of flight and the use and placement of ground control points.

The greater the accuracy required, the more time consuming the drone surveying job typically becomes; mainly in the way of pre-flight set up and post-flight analysis. Keep in mind though, that the time and price of drone surveying will always pale in comparison to the time and cost necessary to carry out a ground survey.

Case Study on Accuracy of Drone Surveying in Volumetric Measurement

Let’s take a quick look at one study, carried out by the research team at Uplift Data Partners.

The purpose of the study was to compare the accuracy of stockpile measurement using a drone compared with that of a manual ground survey, taking place on the same day. The mining company that hosted the study was looking to achieve accuracy of less than 5% deviation from the professional ground survey.

Drone surveying photoTo increase accuracy, the researchers placed ground control points (GCPs) in proximity and on top of 2 large stockpiles to be quantified.  Ground control points are implemented in conjunction with GPS data collected throughout the flight to enhance the accuracy of the survey. GCP’s help the photogrammetric software to accurately process the images to be stitched together to create the overall map, providing more accurate results than using only the UAV’s built in GPS.

The drone survey, as expected, took substantially less time than the ground survey (about 20 minutes per stockpile) producing the following results:

Stockpile 1 (Smaller Pile): The drone survey produced a volumetric measurement of 12,109 cubic yards, which came to a difference of only 0.63% in comparison to the ground survey.

Stockpile 2 (Larger Pile): The drone technology measured the larger pile at 124,659 cubic yards, which equaled a deviation of just 0.36%.

The results showed, without question, drone surveying technology was able to produce results well within the standards provided by the company.  While they were hoping for results within 5% of the ground survey, they received accuracy well within 1%.


In a number of studies and trials across the industry, the evidence is overwhelming that drone surveying—compared to expensive and tedious ground surveys—saves a tremendous amount of both of time and cost without a discernible disparity in accuracy.

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If you have any questions, please feel free to send them on over to me at If you’re located in Florida and are interested in taking advantage of this drone technology for your business, please reach out to us at and visit us at