Thermal Mapping

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Can I make thermal maps with DroneDeploy? Yes!

DroneDeploy is excited to support thermal mapping through our Thermal Roof Inspection app and Thermal Radiometric Processing. We also support real-time thermal mapping with Thermal Live Map.

Thermal Radiometric Processing and Thermal Live Map are Enterprise features.
Talk to us about Enterprise.

Here is an example of a Thermal Live Map of the roof of a hospital that is under construction.

Required Hardware for Thermal Mapping

Availability is restricted by hardware. For a full list of supported drones and sensors for flight and processing, see Recommended & Supported Drones page.

Common hardware for thermal processing with DroneDeploy:

Drone/Sensor

Required Sensor Specs

Type of Thermal

DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual*

N/A

Non-radiometric

DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced**

N/A

Radiometric

DJI Mavic 3T**

N/A

Radiometric

DJI Mavic 30T**

N/A

Radiometric

Zenmuse XT

Resolution: 640x512

Lens: 13mm

Frame Rate: 9hz or 30hz

Radiometric

Zenmuse XT2

Resolution: 640x512

Lens: 13mm

Frame Rate: 9hz or 30hz

Radiometric

Zenmuse H20T

N/A

Radiometric

*The Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual is currently not supported for radiometric capture.

**The Mavic Enterprise Advanced M3T, and M30T hardware are not supported for waypoint flight with DroneDeploy. Processing is supported.

***The XT2 sensor is no longer being manufactured by DJI. For mapping with the M300, DJI recommends the H20T.

 

The M300 series and H20T
We're excited to release support for the M300 drone and its' relative sensors. The powerful H20T camera produces three image sets, a 12MP Wide-angle image, a 20MP zoom image, and a 640x512 IR photo at each photo location. When flying with DroneDeploy we only capture with the IR thermal and zoom lenses. For more information on processing with DroneDeploy, see the "dual processing" section below.

Talk to us about Enterprise.

Thermal Roof Inspection App

The Thermal Roof Inspection app is the recommended way to ensure you are capturing sufficient image overlap for thermal inspection projects. Download it from our app market here.

It is designed specifically for use with the most popular thermal cameras for drones: the DJI M200/210 & Flir XT/XT2, or Inspire 1 & Flir XT. See required Sensor specifications above.

The app ensures high-overlap images on the rooftop, which will provide the best quality results when the map is processed.

 

Limitations of the App:

  • DroneDeploy saves the adjustments made to the flight according to the values provided in the Thermal Roof Inspection app, but we do not display the saved values upon refresh or returning to the page (we display the app defaults). 

 

Enhanced Thermal Flight

Click on the Camera Toggle to switch between RGB and Thermal View

With Enhanced Thermal Flight Control the pilot has more flexibility while conducting inspections with dual RGB and thermal cameras. Start your Mission in your preferred method of capture, then easily toggle between RGB and thermal while flying to inspect assets or highlight issues that one camera might not easily see. This feature can be used during live mapping or during manual flight.

Enhanced Thermal Flight can be used only on dual-camera drones: XT2 and Mavic Dual and is available on Advanced, Teams, and Enterprise tiers.

Thermal Live Map

Thermal Live Map is a quick way to capture a thermal map, so that you can take action in real time. During the live map, camera capture can continue as normal, so uploading is still possible later to upgrade the map quality.

Thermal Live Map is only available for iOS devices manufactured in late 2016 or later (iPhone 7 or iPad Air 2 or newer). The newer the device, the better your experience will be.

 

Getting the best results with Thermal Live Map

The default flight settings will work well for Thermal Live Map and all the normal live map best practices apply. We recommend that you do not fly lower than 150ft (45m) above the object of interest.

When mapping solar panels make sure that your flight plan has legs that are parallel to the rows of panels. Avoid flying during mid-day and times where sunlight is reflected off panels directly toward your camera.

When mapping commercial roofs it is very important that your flight plan is slightly inset from the roof perimeter (see example below). Doing this will greatly reduce mapping artifacts.

For additional tips on drone inspections for commercial roofs, check out this video by FLIR: https://www.flir.com/suas/delta/delta-episode-9/

We also recommend avoiding areas that vary more than 75ft (25m) in elevation. Areas with small hills and buildings shouldn’t be a problem, but buildings or terrain taller than 5 stories (50ft or 15m) may cause stitching problems in the Thermal Live Map.

We see a greater rate of success for thermal maps processed in Structures Mode.

Tips for improving the quality of your thermal images
It's recommended that you turn on your drone and plug in your XT/XT2 camera so it can warm up for 3-5 minutes. You should also avoid flying in weather with:

  • Wind speeds over 12 mph
  • Humidity over 50%
  • Any kind of precipitation

Thermal Radiometric Processing

Enterprise customers who are capturing radiometric thermal images can request access to our Radiometric Thermal Processing. This will provide significantly improved reconstruction results for complex thermal datasets.

We use the absolute temperature data embedded into the images from high-quality Thermal cameras to provide consistent thermal coloring across the map area.

Insurance customers are finding water ingress, roof degradation, weather damage, and low quality installation.

Oil & Gas customers are revealing underground pipelines, leaks, and hotspots.

Solar customers are detecting string outages, faulty modules, and even sub-module defects over hundreds of MW.

‘Dual-Mode’ Radiometric Processing

In addition to standard radiometric thermal processing as stated above, DroneDeploy Enterprise customers have the option to upload both thermal and RGB imagery as a single dataset to produce higher quality finished thermal maps and models. 

Thermal sensors, such as the DJI Zenmuse XT2, can capture simultaneous thermal and RGB imagery during flight. 

For example, a user flies a single roof inspection flight using the DJI Zenmuse XT2 camera and produces 300 RGB images saved to one SD card, and 300 thermal images to the second SD card, a total of 600 images. That user can then upload all 600 images to a single “Map & Model” in the “Upload” tab.

Screen_Shot_2021-10-09_at_10.04.22_AM.png

DroneDeploy will use the RGB imagery as high resolution context during photogrammetry, and texture the final map and model with the temperature data to yield a high-quality finished thermal map and model.  

*Note, if an RGB map is also a desired output - for example, to do a side-by-side comparison against the thermal map as seen in the section Analyzing Radiometric Thermal Maps below - you can upload just the RGB images as you would for a standard map.

Screen_Shot_2021-10-09_at_10.05.33_AM.png

Thermal Ground Control Points
Currently, the use of ground control points are not supported on Thermal
Thermal Radiometric Processing is a DroneDeploy Enterprise feature
Talk to us about Enterprise.

Radiometric Solar Field

Radiometric Roof Inspection

Analyzing Thermal Maps

Annotations, measurements, and issues work great with Thermal Maps. Annotations can be used to mark problem areas like the locations of offline or deficient solar panels. Measuring tools can approximate the scale of water damage on a roof when estimating repair costs.

Screen_Shot_2021-10-09_at_10.06.34_AM.png
Screen_Shot_2021-10-09_at_10.07.26_AM.png

Annotate problem areas like the bubbling on this roof.

Analyzing Radiometric Thermal Maps

Non-radiometric thermal data is great for identifying relative hot and cold spots which could indicate problems you need to address, but it does not allow you to compare actual temperatures. You may also use the side-by-side comparison tool to compare a thermal map of your location to a regular photo map to help you better understand what might be causing a hot or cold spot. Just select your thermal map, enter side by side mode, and select a comparison map that does not have a thermal layer present.

For radiometric thermal maps, you can inspect the temperature at a specific point or adjust your visualization to identify areas of your map that may be outside of acceptable temperature ranges.

Please keep in mind that your temperature measurements cannot be any more accurate than the sensor used to capture the data.

 

Resolution on Thermal Maps

The resolution (also called ground sampling distance) of a Thermal Live Map depends on your flight altitude and is generally 1/5 of the resolution of an equivalent RGB DroneDeploy map. This is due to the limited resolution of thermal sensors. Here are some resolution examples for different Thermal Mapping altitudes.

Altitude Ground Sampling Distance
150ft 2.5 in/pixel (6 cm/pixel)
250ft 4 in/pixel (10.5 cm/pixel)
350ft 6 in/pixel (15 cm/pixel)
400ft 6.5 in/pixel (17 cm/pixel)

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