Custom Technology Enables 10-Times-Faster Drone Data Processing

After launching a successful drone surveying and mapping practice 3 years ago, Dudek’s Mapping and Surveying team faced a new challenge. “We were mobilizing and flying new sites at such a fast pace that the industry-standard drone data processing software platforms couldn’t scale to efficiently keep pace with our growing business,” said Mapping and Surveying Practice Director Steve Hochart. “We wanted to develop a custom solution to save our clients time and, ultimately, money on their projects.”

A Custom Solution Takes Shape

At the same time, the Dudek IT team was evaluating several cloud-based processing platforms in order to transition away from rigid “on-premises” data centers. The Mapping and Surveying team’s challenge was a perfect use case to test the new technology. Dudek’s IT and Mapping and Surveying teams worked together closely to identify a new image processing software solution that could scale out and take full advantage of the limitless expandability of the cloud.

After several weeks of development, the Mapping and Surveying team was ready to test their new solution. Using a 7,000-acre test site, they first processed the data using industry-standard software. Working around the clock, this method took three days to process 7,000 acres of high-resolution aerial imagery. Then, the team processed the data again, this time using the custom-engineered solution. The data processed in just six hours and returned higher quality images, filling in areas that the old solution could not image match and improving data accuracy.

Drone Data Processing Expedited in the Real World

With promising test results under their belt, the team moved quickly to deploy the new custom solution on all projects being flown by the team throughout North America and in Hawai‘i. Deploying this new technology allows the team to cut down the turnaround time of aerial and lidar processing by an order of magnitude, with higher quality output. Moreover, by processing in house, they avoid the risk of delay when sending data to a third-party data processing company. Processing data more efficiently lets the team deliver final products to clients faster, enabling quick decision-making and supporting short project schedules.

The solution wasn’t simple, by any means, and required initiative to solve a problem for clients and improve overall service. However, Hochart said, “Investing in this technology was a no-brainer on all levels. Being able to provide data this fast is a huge game changer for all of our clients.” Faster, higher quality data, means higher quality projects with shorter schedules. It’s a win-win.