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UAVS take flight: Leading-edge commercial and industrial applications

April 3, 2021  - By and
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Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are something of a Swiss Army knife for the surveying and mapping communities. Commercial applications continue to grow, with UAVS — known as drones in the vernacular — gathering data and observations for agriculture, mining, utility inspections, natural resources, historical preservation, security, and many more applications.

UAVs perform high-risk tasks that keep workers out of harm’s way. They fly in places and situations difficult or impossible for aircraft to reach. They collect high-resolution imagery across the spectrum, accompanied by exact positioning and location data. They detect and help preserve the past in rich detail.

A study by Polaris Market Research predicts the UAV market will reach $15.62 billion By 2026, spurred not only by new use cases, but through miniaturization and improvement of components. Payload components that continue to improve include GNSS receivers, inertial measurement units, micro-electromechanical components, cameras of all types (RGB, thermal, hyperspectral and high-resolution video) and lidar. (For more on lidar with UAVs, see Diving into UAV lidar surveys.)

In these pages, we share a variety of case studies from companies taking part in the UAV revolution. In many of these use cases, companies saved considerable money using UAVs rather than more traditional surveying methods. In others, UAVs are helping to keep people safe.

In all cases, using UAVs provides a wealth of data that offer new insights, no matter the application.

UAV Application Case Studies

Diving into UAV lidar surveys, by Matteo Luccio

UAV + lidar combination maps mine, tunnel mouth

A new angle on mapping cliffs on California shore

Rocking powerline inspections with UAVs

Remembering U.S. history by mapping internment camp with UAV

L3Harris provides detailed mapping for UAV flights

Taking stock in West Virginia: UAVs save WVDOT time and money

UAVs help solve challenges at an Arizona open-pit mine

Wingtra drones with Septentrio inside help prevent avalanches

DJI provides dual controllers for two UAV operators

Taoglas GNSS antenna flies with parrots


Feature photo: CHCNAV

About the Author:


Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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