Drones ‘mapping future’of surveys

 Paudie Barry of Baselinesurveys.ie, Cork, with his remotely piloted aircraft system. Maps are more accurate than those produced by engineers or surveyors, he says. Picture: Denis Minihane
Paudie Barry of Baselinesurveys.ie, Cork, with his remotely piloted aircraft system. Maps are more accurate than those produced by engineers or surveyors, he says. Picture: Denis Minihane

A surveyor, pilot and 3D modeller have joined forces to come up with a new system that is capable of carrying out land surveys that traditionally take days, in minutes.

Baselinesurveys.ie use drones or remotely piloted aircraft systems and camera systems which make high resolution maps of the ground below that are more accurate than maps produced by surveyors and engineers with base stations.

Company owner Paudie Barry said that they produced a full map of Skibbereen, Co Cork, after about 15 minutes of flying the system over the town.

The map which was created afterwards was as accurate as any map that could be created by a group of engineers or surveyor spending hours working with base stations and taking measurements on the land.

A civil engineer specialising in 3D modelling with Baselinesurveys.ie, Ross Coakley said that when they began taking surveys with the remotely piloted aircraft systems they produced an academic paper which showed levels of accuracy that were astounding.

“The paper was peer reviewed in Rostock university who specialise in geo-infomatics, so we had to carry out that survey just to see for ourselves.

“It kept blowing us for six with the results; we couldn’t believe that we are getting these results so we did our test and sure enough it confirmed everything we knew,” said Mr Coakley.

Mr Coakley said that there is now no reason to send engineers and surveyors out on to sites to take surveys as a simple fly by can now create more accurate maps which can then be interpreted in a number of ways.

“It is safer, better and cheaper. It is safer than sending somebody out with a tripod, its more accurate than sending somebody out with a tripod.

“The information you get back is photographic quality so it’s better,” he said.

The company also collects a much wider range of data than traditional surveyorsallowing them to create everything from maps for settling boundary solutions to looking at the health of crops.

Mr Barry said that once the data is collected there is no limit as to what you can create.

“Once you have it surveyed, once you have flown the site you can go back and do whatever you like with the data,” he said.

Mr Barry believes that by combining the accurate maps that the remotely piloted aircraft systems create with land registry data his company could quickly and effectively resolve any land dispute.

“We scanned land registry maps to fit over the photography to such an extent that I can then trace the boundary markings and once that is traced I can position it on a site with an accuracy of plus or minus 20mm.

“We can pick the line and walk the line with a gps and resolve all the boundary issues

If you were to bring this into court and you wanted to persuade the judge to illustrate where the boundary is to the judge, you can show him a land registry map on pictures,” said Mr Barry.

Another application for the technology is in the planning process where a 3D model of what is intended to be built can be quickly and accurately put into a model of the area.

Mr Barry believes that there is no reason why this new technology should not be used in place of the traditional engineer on the ground.

“There are two reasons that you would use traditional methods in the face of this: one of them is that you don’t know about this; and the second is you are too nervous to move away from the old method you have been using for that last 20 years.

“They are the two reasons you wouldn’t use this.

“It’s absolutely utterly accurate data that we are prepared to stand over and you can sue us if it is incorrect. We are a professional survey company, we produce data that is accurate no matter if we read the tape or do it with a total stationary unit,” he said.

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