How Drones are Used to Measure Stockpiles

How Drones are Used to Measure Stockpiles

When a company purchases a drone package from Detailed Aerial Solutions, our experts provide all the necessary training and support to put the technology to work.  Here, we’ll just focus on our process when a company hires us to measure stockpiles as a service.


  1. diverse-flight-solutions-faaBefore one of our pilots begins any stockpile job, we’ll do a preliminary airspace and weather check. This is to ensure that the flight(s) won’t enter into any controlled airspace that requires pre-approval from the FAA, and no weather hazards (such as high wind, low cloud cover, or storm conditions) will impede safe operation.
  2. Our pilot(s) will also carry out a pre-flight visual inspection of all work areas. The pilot will note any potential obstructions, and visually inspect stockpile areas to account for any topographical anomalies that could potentially affect accuracy of stockpile data.
  3. From there, a pre-flight inspection is carried out on the drone itself to ensure all flights will be carried out safely.


  • Once pre-flight procedures are out of the way, the flight itself is fairly simple. Our pilot plans the automated flight over the stockpiles by drawing a simple grid on our satellite app, and sends the UAV on its way.
  • The drone follows the flight path (in a grid pattern, much like a surveyor physically walks the site), taking a coordinated series of high-resolution photos as it goes. Once the path is complete, the drone returns “home,” landing in the same spot as takeoff.


  • Drone Stockpiles MappingThe pilot will then remove the SD memory card from the drone and plug it into a laptop to ensure photo quality while still on site.
  • The images are then uploaded to our robust software application, which effectively builds a 3D map of the flight area, along with all of the stockpiles.
  • One of our analysts then generates a report with accurate stockpile measurements, by creating a perimeter around each stockpile to be measured. This is where our pre-flight visual inspection comes into play; selecting perimeter points that are perfectly even with the base of the pile (not on a peripheral mound or depression unseen from the air, for example) is paramount.
  • Our high-powered software accurately calculates stockpile volume cut (and/or fill) based on the high-resolution photos and 3D model.

All of this is typically completed within an hour or two, and the client is supplied with a full report within 24 hours.

Hopefully this gives you a better idea of how the process of measuring stockpiles through drone technology works. In Part 2 of this series, we’ll take a look at a few real world examples of how this technology is saving mining and aggregate companies time and money today.

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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