ArcGIS Drone2Map

Introducing ArcGIS Drone2Map Standard and Advanced

The usage of drones has become increasingly common in the past few years.  As a result, there have been many advancements in the way drone data is collected, processed and shared across different industries and use cases.  ArcGIS Drone2Map serves the evolving needs of users in many vertical markets by providing an easy-to-use workflow for GIS drone mapping in a desktop environment.  

As of the latest release (version 2022.1, released 23 June 2022), Drone2Map is now offered in two license levels: Standard and Advanced. In this blog, we’ll review the features in the two license levels and explore how to take advantage of them based on your business needs.

FEATURES & BENEFITS – Advanced License 

Drone2Map Advanced provides the ability to generate 2D as well as 3D products.  The Advanced license enables the generation of “True orthos from RGB images, which show a topdown view of everything in the project area.  For projects that include buildings, this means the ortho will show the top of the building (no oblique views of building facades) in its correct horizontal position. To learn more about the three different types of ortho images you can create and the advantages of each, read this blog.

Drone shot of building showing true ortho
Small sample of a True ortho created in ArcGIS Drone2Map Advanced.

When creating 2D outputs such as True orthos, digital surface models (DSMs) and digital terrain models (DTMs), here are some of the great features you get to work with: 

Drone2Map Advanced also lets you create 3D outputs such as point clouds and textured meshes from your RGB images.  Detailed point clouds support point-to-point 3D measurements, and the 3D meshes provide vibrant, realistic, interactive views of a project area. 3D textured meshes of existing buildings can be extremely valuable for scenarios such as planning citywide maintenance, supporting fire rescue operations, and informing stakeholders about the progress of a construction project – among many more applications.

Redlands Packing District Mesh
Animated GIF showing a small section of the 3D textured mesh created by Drone2Map Advanced.

FEATURES & BENEFITS – Standard License 

Drone2Map Standard is able to process the same types of input imagery as Drone2Map Advanced, and provides most of the same features and benefits listed above.  The key differences between the two license levels are: 

This screenshot shows a True ortho of a small subdivision, created with Drone2Map Advanced.
This animated GIF shows a traditional orthomosaic created with default settings in Drone2Map Standard license. Ground features are in their proper (x,y) location. Note the location of seamlines between images (light blue overlay) that cuts through some of the buildings.

Esri recommends you capture both nadir and oblique imagery if you’ll be creating 3D products using Drone2Map Advanced, and use only nadir (or near-nadir) camera orientations for generating ortho images (with either Drone2Map Advanced or Standard license). You can compare the differences between the two license types here.

EXAMPLE USE CASES  

Vertical markets that may benefit the most from an Advanced license include construction/AEC, as well as city/county government applications such as public safety and real estate development.  If buildings, bridges, and other manmade objects are a key focus of your project, the Advanced license is recommended to generate True orthos.  However, there are some use cases that do not require the features of the Advanced license.  

Vertical markets and use cases that are best suited for the Standard license include agriculture, environmental monitoring, or applications that focus on volumetric measurements of stockpiles or excavations (e.g., used by open pit mine operators, aggregate suppliers, State DOTs). 

The above screenshots show an area of natural terrain where natural pools appear in springtime. This is a traditional orthomosaic created with default settings in Drone2Map Standard license. The mosaic area is 2200 m by 1400 m, and the closeup view shows part of a hiking trail with an elevated viewing platform. Imagery courtesy of San Diego State University.

NOTE 1:  For best accuracy it is recommended to identify multiple, accurate 3D control points at photo identifiable features using a survey grade GPS unit.  Control points may also be extracted visually from the Esri imagery basemap to ensure alignment with other GIS layers, although the accuracy of these points (and therefore the final outputs) will not be known. 

Please share your ideas for future enhancements and questions in the Esri Community pages for ArcGIS Drone2Map at this link https://community.esri.com/t5/arcgis-drone2map/ct-p/arcgis-drone2map  

About the authors

Reanne is the Product Marketer at Esri for Site Scan for ArcGIS, SURE for ArcGIS and most things related to drone and aerial mapping. MBA from the University of Redlands, currently becoming an avid gardener and imagery enthusiast!

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