What is DroneDeploy?
DroneDeploy is the easiest and fastest solution to build aerial maps and models.
You can think of our service as having two components:
1) Flight Automation and Data Capture
Customers flying DJI drones can capture imagery using the DroneDeploy mobile app. This will simplify flight planning as well as ensure appropriate coverage and overlap of imagery.
Download our iOS or Android App for free, and see our Initial Setup for DJI drones guide to getting ready for your first flight:
2) Data Processing and Analysis
Process data from your DroneDeploy flight, or use Map Engine to process imagery from any drone.
Does DroneDeploy work outside the USA?
Yes. The DroneDeploy mobile app for DJI drones is available in over 120 countries, and data processing is available internationally. To process data captured with non-DJI drones, please see How to Process Existing Datasets.
How do you provide support if we are outside of North America?
DroneDeploy provides customer support to our paid and trial customers around the world. Our Support team is located across the globe. We have team members in the East and West coasts of the United States, South Africa, and Australia. Our team can best support English and Spanish language questions.
How do I set up DroneDeploy for the first time?
Please visit What Do I Need to Start Mapping? for information on what is needed to start mapping.
I don't have any experience with drones. Can I still build aerial maps?
Yes! DroneDeploy can be used by anyone who knows how to use a smartphone, tablet, or laptop with no additional training needed. We even have training available through our DroneDeploy Academy.
How does it all work?
DroneDeploy connects your drone to the internet, allowing for powerful and sophisticated servers in the cloud to plan your flight, run safety checks, and crunch massive amounts of visual data.
Can DroneDeploy be used for projects in countries where there is not universal internet access or in remote areas without cellphone or WIFI signal?
Yes, you can pre-plan your flight in an area with internet, either on your desktop or your mobile device, in order to fly offline. You can also use KML and SHP files to pre-plan your flights for areas without internet access. In addition, our app will cache some background maps tiles so they are available when you review flight plans offline.
How do I conduct a multi-battery flight in DroneDeploy in order to map a bigger area than a single battery can handle?
It’s very easy to do a battery swap and then continue your mission. Just bring the drone home when the battery gets low, swap in the new battery, and then restart your plan from the point where you left off. For a step-by-step guide, please check out Mapping Large Areas with DJI
What kind of device do you recommend using with the app? Apple or Android?
While both Android and iOS work well with DroneDeploy, iOS (Apple) has a better experience than Android because of the way Android handles the USB connection. This causes iOS to be a little more stable.
Do you have a solution for this exclusivity problem where I always need to kill the DJI Go app before I start DroneDeploy on my Android?
Unfortunately not - we're working with DJI to find solutions to this issue, but it lies in the way Android handles the USB connections. Once one app has access to the USB connection for a device, another app cannot use it - that's why you have to force quit the DJI go app to allow DroneDeploy to work (and vice versa).
What happens when you fly autonomously with DroneDeploy and you lose your lightbridge controller and/or video signal?
If you lose connection during a flight it is recommended that you press and hold the RTH button on the controller and return the drone. Once the drone returns, you should restart the mission after power cycling the drone and restart the mobile device.
If you want to take control of the drone during the auto flight, can you switch back to the DJI Go app and bring it back to the home point?
Yes, you can! You can always also press the home button on the RC or in the DroneDeploy app. Alternatively, you flip the mode switch (on the top left corner of the RC) to disengage autonomous flight.
Does DroneDeploy support automated flight planning available for mapping areas with large vertical objects/topography such as mountains, buildings, and towers?
DroneDeploy Mobile App now allows you to automatically capture oblique photos of objects in the center while flying in Enhanced 3D mode. For best results, we do still recommend conducting some manual flying with your drone and then processing those images with DroneDeploy is the best method currently For more information on how to do so, please review our guide to for 3D Models.
Does the DroneDeploy mobile app always control my drone's camera angle?
Yes, the DroneDeploy mobile app automatically controls the camera to tilt down in a nadir position after reaching altitude. For areas where you need to tilt the angle of your camera, such as when conducting 3D models, you will need to fly manually.
To avoid burnt images due to the sunlight, what kinds of camera settings do you recommend?
If you're flying on a particularly sunny day, the images may be washed out unless the white balance is adjusted to "Sunny" in the DJI Go App. In order for the settings to apply, you must turn off "Automatic Camera Settings" in the DroneDeploy mobile app in the advanced section of the flight plan.
What is the recommended front and side overlap?
We generally recommend that all images should have a significant overlap (at least 70% side and frontlap). The greater the image overlap, the easier it is for our software to process your image. A higher overlap percentage gives you greater map detail. Please review our guide to Making Successful Maps
Map Processing Questions
Do I have to have a paid subscription in order to access map processing
Yes, map processing is only available for our paying customers. You can always Sign Up for a trial as a new DroneDeploy user or contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in a subscription.
Is your processor big enough to process all data uploaded at all times, or are there queues for processing?
We have customers in over 130 countries around the world, and in order to process this data efficiently, we have thousands of CPU's distributed across many data centers around the world. Users who have higher DroneDeploy subscription tiers do get their data processed with higher priority.
Can I create 3D maps in DroneDeploy? What differentiates DroneDeploy from its competition?
Yes! You can generate 3D models using DroneDeploy. All you need to do is upload your geo-tagged drone imagery to DroneDeploy, and we'll take care of the rest. See our 3D Models for best practices. One of the big differences between DroneDeploy and other alternatives is that we do the processing for you in the cloud so that you don't need to use desktop processing power.
How can I upload and process imagery for very large areas? We sometimes generate 10,000+ pictures, and DroneDeploy currently limits to 3,000 pictures on one map.
The very rough rule of thumb is that flying at 400 ft, you typically need around 1 image per acre, so 3000 images will enable you to map pretty large areas (3000 acres). In these situations, it's wise to ask what the output of the data will be - if you have 10K images at 400 ft (and hence around 10K acres), what software suite do you plan to import that data into? Your finished product can often be achieved easier and with more quality by splitting up the mission into a few smaller flights.
Is it possible to upload additional images to a map after it has been processed, and the orthomosaic and 3D model have been generated?
Yes, you can upload additional images to a processed map. Please review this article to learn how.
Plant Health and NDVI Questions
Do I have to have a special camera to capture NDVI information or can I use the standard RGB camera that comes with the drone?
Yes, to apply the NDVI algorithm you have to have a modified camera that captures some combination of Near-Infrared, Green, and Blue light. However, you can use a standard RGB camera to apply the VARI algorithm. For more information, please see our NDVI Cameras for Drones support documentation.
How do you compare the crop health images from RGB camera to ones taken with NIR sensor?
If you use an RGB filtered camera (the standard camera on DJI drones) to assess plant health you can only apply the VARI algorithm, which can be used to see the "greenness" of a crop. Otherwise, if you use Near-Infrared cameras (modified cameras) you can apply the NDVI algorithm to measure the amount of chlorophyll produced in a plant. This can be used to see the overall health of a crop.
Can you explain in more detail the filter type and algorithm in DroneDeploy?
Do users have the possibility to implement other algorithms?
We don't allow users to implement their own algorithms at the moment, but you can view the current options here: Understanding NDVI. If there's something specific you're looking for, reach out to Support to let us know and we'll consider putting it into the product! We are always happy to take customer feedback and feature requests.
Can you easily crop your map to have the NDVI information focus on just your field and not the fields next door that are different crops?
Yes, you can! Learn how to crop your maps here: Cropping
Drones and Cameras Questions
Does DroneDeploy work only with its own custom drones?
No. In fact, we don't manufacture drones at all. We've designed our software to be compatible with most DJI drones.
Can you use another brand of drone other than DJI? How does the DroneDeploy mobile app work with other brands?
We support any geo-referenced imagery, so as long as there is GPS data in the EXIF tags of the images, we can process it using our Map Engine. See: How to Process Existing Datasets for more information.
Do you need LIDAR drones to create elevation maps?
Elevation maps are created using standard geo-referenced cameras on drones. We're able to do some advanced math to figure out the elevations by looking at differences in perspective between two overlapping images. Pretty cool stuff!
Can you process thermal imagery in DroneDeploy?
Currently, we are able to stitch thermal orthomosaics via Thermal Live Map. We are working to support radiometric JPG and TIFF files.
What type of SD Card is recommended for mapping large areas?
We recommend a high-speed SD Card. It would be ideal that it has at least 16GB to ensure your card can take all of the pictures during your DroneDeploy mission.
Accuracy & Compatibility Questions
What kind of accuracy can you expect in a map? If you fly lower, will accuracy be better?
Accuracy can be interpreted in two ways - relative and absolute. We discuss this in detail in the article How Accurate is My Map?
That being said - flying lower and having more images will improve your accuracy.
What software could my customers use to view and manipulate the data exported from DroneDeploy?
DroneDeploy supports the exporting of a lot of file formats. Each data export format is different and you can use them in a wide variety of software. We recommend reviewing DroneDeploy's Data Exports Formats to identify the different format types and the software that you can use to display and process that data.
When looking at my elevation maps, they seem domed where the edges seem lower when they are not. Any way to avoid this?
This typically happens when you are flying with fisheye lenses (GoPro, Phantom 2 etc.). You can also improve the data by getting more samples (increasing the overlap, and uploading more images), or by flying a little higher to get more context when stitching.
What do Ground Control Points mean?
Ground Control Points (GCPs) are an effective way to increase the absolute (or global) accuracy of an aerial map. In this sense, by adding GCP targets, a map can increase its accuracy from within a couple of feet to within inches. In order to collect accurate GCP information, you need to add aerial targets on the ground prior to the flying so they can be captured in the images, and to record the precise location (Latitude, Longitude, and Elevation) of the targets by using an accurate GPS device. For more detailed information on how to submit a GCP reprocessing in DroneDeploy.com, please review our guide for Successfully Capturing and Processing GCPs.
What is an RTK GPS?
Real Time Kinematic or RTK GPS is a differential GPS system that uses a base station and rover pair to obtain precise position data measurement. Typically, by using a RTK GPS you can obtain up to 1-2cm accuracy horizontally and twice that for vertical.
What is your recommendation on what pattern to use when laying GCPs in an area to be mapped?
For a standard map, we recommend using 5 GCP targets, each located at least 50 feet from the boundary of the 4 corners of the map, and 1 placed in the center. For larger and irregular maps, no more than 10 GCP targets are usually needed. Please review our GCP guide for further information.
What does the RMSE of my map mean?
The RMSE is the Root Mean Squared Error, which gives you the accuracy across all the X, Y, Z dimensions. In other words, the RMSE represents the average error between where the GPS said the camera was, and where DroneDeploy calculated the camera needed to be in order to make the overlapping images stitch.
What does the zero elevation mark on the Elevation Map mean? Is it the altitude of where the drone launched from or is it a Mean Sea Level (MSL) elevation?
In the Elevation Toolbox, the zero elevation value represents the relative elevation of the ground to that of your takeoff point. However, the zero elevation can be randomly displaced some feet/meters depending on the drone's GPS error. In order to get the absolute elevation measurement (Mean Sea Level - MSL), you would have to apply Ground Control Points to your map.
Can I get the elevation map to be accurate with MSL instead of taking the elevation of takeoff point?
In order to adjust the elevation data taken from the drone to a global reference system, you would have to either reprocess your map using Ground Control Point (GCPs) or using a differential GPS system (RTK, PPK, etc.). By using GCPs you can radically improve your absolute (or Global) GPS accuracy from within a couple of feet to within inches. For more information on how to apply GCPs to your map, please review this documentation.
How accurate is volume measurement using DroneDeploy?
Following best practices, many of our users find volume measurements to be accurate to within 1-2% when compared to traditional ground-based laser measurements. For more information, check out this page in our support center: Volume Measurement with Drones
How would I use Ground Control Points to increase accuracy in volume measurement?
Ground Control Points (GCP) are an effective way to increase accuracy on a global level. However, the data you are getting from a standard drone flight without GCPs will produce highly accurate volume measurements as those measurements are at the local level. These measurements are typically 98-99% accurate so GCPs are not necessarily needed. Learn more about accuracy here.
Any tips for ideal altitude for volume measurements of stockpiles?
A good practice, if you are mapping with the intention of measuring volume, is to fly the map in tiers, one mission at 200 feet and one at 75, for example. Also, It can be helpful to supplement overhead flight with a few oblique images to capture details on the sides of stockpiles or benches. Please review our guide for Making Successful Map in order to improve map quality moving forward.
What do "Linear Fit", "Lowest Point", and "Triangulated" mean in the volumetric toolbox?
DroneDeploy Volumetric Toolbox has three options to measure volume based on the calculated base plane that fits a selecting area.
Agriculture Use Cases and Workflow
How can I use drone maps to help create management zones and write variable rate recommendations?
If you open up the “Plant Health” tools menu on your DroneDeploy map, you may see two toggles that can aggregate your plant health data into either discrete zones or into a grid. If you use Zones, you can then use the sliders to determine what you want the threshold values to be between the zones. Once you have defined the zones or grid you want, you can then export your data as a Shapefile (available on the Business and Enterprise plans of DroneDeploy) which can then be imported into precision ag software to develop a variable rate prescription.
What can we tell about soil from DroneDeploy flyovers? Moisture? Soil type?
Drone mapping is no replacement for soil analysis, but looking at soil sample data in combination with drone plant health maps can help highlight interesting correlations and be used to develop more granular nutrient applications. Check out this case study to see how one group of experts is doing it.
Can you address tree crops nut/fruit growers, and also forest health for lumber companies or fire danger?
Many of the same practices and principles apply to trees crop growers and forest management as pertaining to corn and soy, including best practices for flight, and the basics of plant health algorithms. However, there are some key differences between tree crops that may lead to different drone use cases. You might check out this case study, which discusses some of the specific considerations of drone mapping for almond growers.
As a third party drone service provider, how would you recommend pricing services? Per job? Per acre?
This is a fantastic question to ask on our Forum(forum.dronedeploy.com), or on Facebook groups. In general service providers bill by the hour, but in Ag - most things are spec'd out per acre. There is also often a 'callout fee' to cover gas and travel.
How does drone insurance work?
Insurance, including that for drones, is a complex subject. We have a blog post that reviews requirements, how drone insurance works and considerations when reviewing which insurance plan best for your situation.
I mostly do drone photography but would like to try mapping. Where is a good place to learn more?
Any suggestions on study tools for Part 107?
There are a number of different online resources to study for your Part 107. This DroneDeploy's blog posts covers where you can find information related to Part 107 to help you pass your test.