Drone survey vs traditional survey 

Inspections play a key role in building management, planned maintenance work and ad-hoc land and property survey projects. In recent years, the way they have been carried out has changed thanks to the introduction of new technologies such as drones.

So, with this in mind, what is the difference between a drone survey versus a traditional survey?

Traditional Surveys

Traditional surveys are – relatively – costly and with that comes a significant element of planning in order to prepare safe access to the area to be inspected. Risk assessments are critical together with health and safety assessments which can serve to slow down project approaches – perhaps a little frustrating when rapid response to one-off events is required (such as lightning strikes for example).

Traditional surveys are carried out using specific methods each with longer planning periods to enact:

Rope Access Inspection

Rope access inspections are carried out by IRATA qualified rope access technicians and involve individual specialists working at height to inspect certain assets. There are obvious and significant safety risks associated with this form of inspection.


In many ways, scaffolding proved one of the more effective ways of carrying out a survey. However, there is a lot to think about when using this method. Scaffolding can impact building access and create inconvenience for passers by on the ground. Scaffolding takes time to erect and disassemble safely, adding to the overall project burden. Sadly, there is a risk of equipment failure and falls with this method of access.

Access Platform Hire

An access platform is sometimes specified over rope access or scaffold construction due in part to the speed at which it can be carried out. However, access platforms can be expensive and also require a risk assessment to be carried out prior to use. There must also be enough available space to deploy a platform, which in built up areas can prove challenging.  

Drone Surveys

The introduction of drones as part of the survey process has completely transformed the way in which surveys are conducted. So, what are the benefits?

  • While a professional qualified and registered pilot is required to control the drone, all they technically need is this one person to undertake a survey mission – which makes them more cost-effective and arguably faster to deploy.
  • It is extremely unlikely that professional commercial-spec drones will fail, but should they do so, there is very little chance of it causing harm or falling from the sky. Today’s drones adopt a wealth of new technologies such as redundant stabilisation that help them to continue to fly in the event of a parts failure.
  • Drone surveys can overcome many of the difficult space requirements that traditional methods demand. For built up areas, high level assets or difficult to access areas, there really is no competition.
  • It is possible to capture an excellent amount of very high quality data, quickly, through drone surveys – including 3D mapping, LiDAR, heat loss data, topographical and volumetric data, site visualisations, progress reports, film and more.
  • Drones can cover more and larger areas of land at a faster pace than traditional methods, again helping to save time and money.
  • Challenging, hidden, or awkward areas can be accessed and ‘seen’. Getting where humans can’t is one of the key benefits of a drone survey versus traditional survey.

Give us a call

Drone surveys are growing in popularity every day with widespread use in construction. Deployment and data capture is significantly faster, more cost-effective and safer, and all achieved without having to place a human foot on site. If you’d like to know more, contact our team today.