Aerial Survey

Can you fly a drone in towns or cities?

Can you fly a drone in towns or cities?

We’re delighted to officially announce our joint venture partnership with one of the most spectacular geo-mapping companies in Scotland: Geo.Geo

West Calder has Aura in the Air

Aura recently had the honour of delivering a presentation to Team Leaders and Directors of Scotland’s leading contractor, Morrison Construction to mark the handover of our Aerial Survey of the West Calder High School site.


Our presentation summarised how we delivered the project from survey perparation (including communication with local residents) to building the model from data captured by our DJI S1000+ UAV Octocopter.


West Calder High School Site survey

As our DJI S1000 - armed with its 4k Panasonic GH4 - autonomously took to the skies to survey the 52,000 sqm site in West Calder, we talked representatives of Morrison Construction, West Lothian Council, and Archial Norr Architects through the process of Aerial Survey:


“We combine data captured by the UAV with GPS data collected using Trimble GNSS Survey equipment to effectively complete a topographical survey entirely from the air. The process reduces a survey that would ordinarlily weeks of site time to one that can be completed in less than a day. Few companies are currently able to combine in-house aerial imagery with topographical GPS data which means that Aura is currently at the forefront of the aerial survey revolution.”


West Calder High School Site Aerial Survey Inspection

Our words weren’t uttered just to impress either; aerial survey is fast becoming the most effective means to survey large or complex sites. The technology really does mean that a few weeks onsite can be reduced to a single day. This is without considering the fact that substantially more data points (millions) will be collected in a few short minutes - more individual data points than many months of Total Station survey could amass!

advantages of aerial survey

The efficiency of the technology was demonstrated on the morning of the survey; we spent just over two hours on site, with most of the time being spent waiting on weather and fending off midges. When the skies parted to give us a brief glimpse of the sun, we programmed a flight path over the survey area and, once in flight, the Octocopter snapped a total of 573 ultra-high resolution images before returning back to the point from which it took off!

aerial survey images

Back in the office we gathered the aerial imagery and combined it with GPS control points collected at ground level using our Trimble R8 Rover. Some careful inputting and data processing meant that we had generated a complete 3D model of the site within a few days. Final data point count: over 200million!

aerial survey modelling image
Aura Survey Morrison Construction logos

The model has since been submitted to world-class architectural practice Archial Norr who are working with Autodesk 3DS Max to turn it into stunning visuals for the West Calder High School construction project. We will be sure to add these to the next blog in the series.
A case study of the project to date can be downloaded by clicking here.

aerial survey edinburgh scotland modelling

A Large Complex Survey... In a Morning

We can save our clients time and money by producing highly detailed, accurate land and building models from the air.

Rising early on a Sunday morning is never fun. However, this Sunday it wasn’t a problem for us - even after being at a wedding until the wee hours of Saturday evening. This was because Sunday saw us complete a benchmark UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) survey.

aerial survey edinburgh scotland drone

Leaving Edinburgh as the sun rose, we met with our partner, all round cool guy, and Drone Pilot (Ro Ramtohul of Urban Air Media) with his high spec DJI S1000+ Octocoptor at Inverkeithing Quarry. If you haven’t been, Inverkeithing Quarry is a beautiful site perched on the shores of the Forth, overlooking the iconic Forth Rail Bridge. With it’s blue watered lagoon, high faces, and amazing location it’s a spot that we’d recommend checking out. Our mission for the morning: to create a complete 3D model of the quarry.

aerial survey edinburgh scotland

After programming a flight path and conducting a test flight we hit “go” and let technology do it’s thing. In minutes the Octocopter - complete with a high resolution Panasonic GH4 4k camera – had taken 93 images of the site and had landed back where it had set off.  Despite the wind (and it really was gusty), the incredible DJI S1000+ did its thing wonderfully. The images that it took were unbelievably sharp and each had been georeferenced to its exact position.
Back in the office we set about downloading the imagery and importing all the data collected to our software. Using clever overlapping and photogrammetry,  the software enabled us to produce a complete 3D rendered model of the entire site in a few hours. The model is cloud point based and fully interactive – each pixel in the 93 images becoming a measurable data point with x, y, z coordinates.

aerial survey water field scotland edinburgh

Due to the size, layout, and complexity of the site, traditional survey methods would have made producing a model to even half of the detail of the aerial survey incredibly difficult, not to mention, time consuming. This is why we chose it. Within hours we had created a model that would have taken us weeks to create with other land survey methods (GPS, Total Stations with Refectorless point shooting, photogrammetry). Sure, the model required some tidying and a little manipulation but it was all there to be explored! Updates to follow!

aerial survey edinburgh model scotland

With this technology we are excited to be able to save our clients time and money by producing highly detailed, accurate surveys. UAV technology lends itself to large or complex sites (housing developments, renewable sites, quarry modelling and costal erosion monitoring etc) which can be modelled to high levels of detail in a relatively short space of time. If you’d like to learn more about our UAV aerial survey services then please get in touch!