Drone Mapping Software – How to Choose (Explained for Beginners)

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Drones have come a good distance since their debut as kids’s toys at Pastime Foyer or RadioShack. As we speak, drones are utilized in nearly each business, together with survey-grade knowledge assortment, and that’s not going anyplace anytime quickly. 

You’ll want mapping software program to course of the info you’ve collected, and this text will enable you discover the one which most accurately fits you.

Since drone mapping can be utilized for a plethora of functions, there’s a plethora of drone mapping software program out there. On this article, we’ll focus on what software program could also be best for you. 

There are some heavy hitters within the drone mapping software program subject. DroneDeploy and Pix4D are the 2 huge names that most individuals know. That is for good motive, as they’re cloud-based and intensely user-friendly. 

Nevertheless, a number of different platforms exist as alternate options to those two giants. Specifically, Agisoft Meta Form, Propellor, and WebODM. 

All of the mapping engines listed on this article possess instruments reminiscent of quantity, space, slope, and distance measurements. Together with these instruments are map outputs reminiscent of topographic maps, reduction maps, and 3D fashions.

A few of these apps, Propellor, as an example, possess much more measurements and map outputs.


DroneDeploy ranks as one of the vital user-friendly platforms there’s. Nevertheless, the worth tag connected to the software program isn’t very wallet-friendly.

There are some nice causes to make use of DroneDeploy, reminiscent of in-app flight planning, real-time orthomosaic constructing, cloud-based processing and sharing, and the truth that the software program helps a number of manufacturers of drones in addition to a number of fashions made by these manufacturers.

For a lot of, the final motive is an enormous think about selecting DroneDeploy. DroneDeploy helps drones not particularly made for mapping, which is an enormous deal to the brand new pilots who might not personal a $12,000 mapping drone.

The truth that the software program is cloud-based is one other big benefit of the software program. It’s possible you’ll be asking your self, “My laptop has terabytes of storage. Do I really want cloud-based software program?”

Brief reply? It actually helps. This goes for all cloud-based mapping software program.

Downloading maps and fashions places an excessive toll in your reminiscence utilization. In contrast to regular photos reminiscent of JPEGs and PNGs, for the mosaics, DSMs and DTMs use massive quantities of knowledge to retain high quality and GEO referencing.

As talked about within the introduction, DroneDeploy affords many instruments. One particular instrument is the location comparability to earlier surveys. Development firms extremely worth this, so hold that in thoughts when selecting your mapping engine.

Since DroneDeploy is a paid service, the shopper help you’ll obtain is top-notch.

DroneDeploy has a number of plans to select from. Amongst these are Aglite, Particular person, Superior, Groups, and Enterprise. These plans every come at a unique worth level and provide extra options as you go up in worth. 


Pix4D is a mapping software program program that can also be cloud-based. Nevertheless, the customization of the product that you’re buying varies way more than that of DroneDeploy.

For example, whereas DroneDeploy affords some tiers of subscription, Pix4D provides you the choice to purchase solely the flight planner, the processing platform, or a map editor. In these choices, extra superior instruments can be found based mostly on a tier system much like DroneDeploy.

Since Pix4D is a paid service, the shopper help you’ll obtain is top-notch.

Pix4D’s cloud software program is much like DroneDeploy in that it’s shareable, and your maps will all be saved on their servers. Nevertheless, you do have the choice to obtain them onto your drive.

Pix4D’s outputs, particularly their orthomosaics, are very spectacular. This software program’s means to supply wonderful and correct orthomosaics is considerably unmatched within the enviornment of cloud-based processing software program. As soon as once more, this software program is sort of costly to run.


The subsequent software program we shall be discussing known as Propeller. Propeller is a platform that’s based mostly on a mannequin of pay-per-map course of. For instance, Propeller gives their aerial mapping resolution at $250 per map. 

You’ll obtain all map outputs from this one processor, reminiscent of your orthomosaic, DTM, 3-D mannequin, or plant well being, together with an enormous array of measurement instruments with which to look at and analyze your job website. 

Since Propellor is a paid service, the shopper help you’ll obtain is top-notch.

This software program is geared extra towards firms utilizing an inner drone mapping division than a pilot searching for mapping software program to make use of for their very own enterprise.

Whereas DroneDeploy and Pix4D each provide measurement instruments as effectively, Propeller blows them each out of the water with instruments reminiscent of: 

  • Elevation Distinction  
  • Highway Grade  
  • Floor Space 
  • Design to Design 
  • Quantity from Lowest Level
  • Earthworks Progress
  • Elevation Historical past
  • Cross-Part Comparability
  • Evaluate to Earlier Survey 
  • Berm Verify  
  • Evaluate to Newest Design

The disadvantage of Propeller is that It requires you to make use of an Aeropoint (a wise floor management level) with a view to course of your imagery with any accuracy. The worth level of this Areopoint comes to simply above USD 1,000.

One other downside of this software program is that with a view to use it, you’ll must discover a flight planning app to execute your automated flights as a result of Propeller doesn’t provide one.

The drones advisable for utilization with propeller software program are the Phantom 4 RTK and the Wingtra One.  


For these with a background in GIS, a mixture of two open-source, free software program would be the proper alternative for you. A software program known as Open Drone Map or WebODM is a good different for many who might not wish to make investments 1000’s of {dollars} into cloud-based mapping software program.

» MORE: Best Free Drone Mapping Software

WebODM is a neighborhood (runs in your laborious drive) drone mapping software program that gives customers the identical map outputs as that of DroneDeploy, Pix4D, and a few of Propellor’s instruments. It additionally permits for an array of measurements to be taken within the software program.

Nevertheless, being an open-source platform requires some data of coding for set up. To make use of WebODM, it’s additionally smart to have a grasp of GIS. GIS is brief for Geographic Data Techniques, or in different phrases: digital mapping. Unmanned Aerial Operations (UAO) makes use of net ODM in tandem with a GIS platform known as QGIS. 

WebODM’s help line just isn’t the identical as these different mapping engines. To get assist, you’ll must put up within the WebODM discussion board and hope somebody solutions your query.

This enables UAO to course of drone imagery into normal maps and measurements, with an accuracy increased than most platforms.

Whereas being cost-effective, these two software program applications should not user-friendly and, as talked about earlier than, require some data of GIS. 

Agisoft Metashape

Agisoft Metashape is one other cloud-based drone imagery processing platform that’s extra centered on processing and delivering 3D fashions.

Whereas this software program does possess measurement instruments, it’s restricted when in comparison with Propellor. 

Its 3D mannequin outputs are a homerun and are by far the most effective on this group of drone imagery software program.

Since Agisoft Metashape is a paid service, the shopper help you’ll obtain is top-notch.

Much like Propellor within the multitude of distinctive instruments that Agisoft Metashape possesses are:

  • Dense level cloud: enhancing and classification
  • Terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) registration
  • Floor management factors/scale bar help
  • Stereoscopic measurements
  • Hierarchical tiled mannequin era
  • 4D modeling for dynamic scenes
  • Computerized powerlines detection
  • Satellite tv for pc imagery processing

Why Agisoft may not be a match for you

Agisoft Metashape is usually a program made for 3D modeling. In comparison with the opposite mapping engines, that is what it excels at, and in case your important purpose just isn’t 3D modeling, you could not want to pay for the software program at its worth level.

Related however completely different

Most of those platforms provide trials, so that you’ll be capable of check out which software program is greatest for you earlier than you buy. It actually is determined by your price range, how usually you intend on utilizing the software program, and your means to navigate and leverage the software program to your wants.

As extra mapping software program comes onto the market, these platforms mentioned above will possible fall in worth to be extra aggressive. It’s vital to check out new software program because it turns into out there to drive this course of ahead.

Simply since you like one doesn’t imply that there isn’t one that’s higher. There may even be one which’s extra inexpensive and gives you an identical high quality.


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