Topographical Survey Output

Hi to all

I am making my first post from the UK and hope that it is in the correct place.

I am about to purchase a Mavic2 Pro drone with the intention of carrying out topographical surveys in the vain hope of saving my employment during these lockdown covid-19 days

I wonder if any one will kindly take the time to have a look at the attached image that I have converted from PDF of a basic Topographical Survey report and provide me with basic roadmap advice on the route I will need to take to reproduce similar for new projects. We only currently need this basic report and I intend to expand into 3D etc as my experience grows. I give this report to our CAD guy that uses AutoCad LT to produce our drawings which we produce to support planning applications with Local Authorities in the UK

So far I have been told its possible to use Pix4Dcapture into Pix4Dmapper into Pix4Dsurvey which seems convoluted and expensive. Also I cant find if this route gives me a report similar to the attached.

I shall be grateful of any advice tips or hints that will enable me to research more effectively and efficiently for my desired outcomes.


  1. Why have you selected the Mavic? Have you considered alternative platforms as well?
  2. The Pix4D end-to-end workflow is actually incredibly simple in my experience. But costly.
  3. Pix4D accuracy reports IMO are still second-to-none.

guided_tour_report - 1 guided_tour_report - 2 guided_tour_report - 3 guided_tour_report - 4 guided_tour_report - 5 guided_tour_report - 6 guided_tour_report - 7 guided_tour_report - 8

Hello Saijin

Thank you so much for your reply.

In way of background I want to become a qualified Drone Pilot so that I can attempt create an alternative income stream for myself as this Covid-19 situation badly affected my current contracts. I have selected a company called to study and qualify for this qualification and am nearly decided to take their PFCO & OFQUAL 4 Accreditation package which includes the Mavic 2 Pro.

  1. The Mavic 2 Pro was recommended by them as most suitable. Parrot Anafi was also considered.
  2. I have little experience of producing Topographical Surveys and am researching Pix4D suitability.
  3. The Pix4D reports do look high quality but I am looking for comfort before I begin my journey to learn

The reports you have posted all look mighty fine but none of them look similar to the one that I posted initially. I am looking to find out if there are ways to replicate my posted report so that I can find a starting point to grow from without upsetting the existing work flows that I described.

Basically Im hoping to inject interest and support from a few of my contacts who are using reports like the one I posted that are created by a traditional terrestrial survey company. My plan is to attempt to save them time and survey costs to enable acquisition of new business.

Perhaps you have some suggestions?

@AgingUETiger has been doing related work, some of which he has posted about here: Orthomosaic of Forested Area Produces Contours Around Coniferous Tree Stands

The report type you seek can’t be done entirely in OpenDroneMap, as OpenDroneMap focuses on production of data and less on presentation. You can take contours generated from OpenDroneMap and format a similar report in QGIS or an AutoCAD product.

I would be careful producing something identical however: what you show looks like survey stations, and with a drone you won’t have physically stationed off the area like what is shown. Also, keep in mind that survey measurements often have legal meaning in certain contexts and under certain laws. Be sure to understand the implications of producing survey reports or work with a surveyor to review your work and lend a stamp.

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If you think you might go with Pix4D for part of your workflow, consider Parrot Drones highest since they are the parent company of Pix4D/MicaSense/etc. Even beyond this, the Anafi and even the Bebop2 are very competent platforms. If you’re more DIY/hands-on/Open-Source, the 3DR Solo can’t be beat, IMO. You can get a Solo with RTK and a modified GoPro for not too much more than the Mavic2, if that’s a direction you’re looking to go. Granted, there are some pitfalls that need to be navigated in regards to the batteries, but that situation is getting better daily.

If you’re going to make a product that has a well understood/defined industry-wide definition, you need to be exceedingly cautious, as @smathermather-cm has noted.

The Pix4D reports aren’t really the end deliverable to the client. They are an extra deliverable meant to help quantify/qualify inaccuracies in your survey work. They’re invaluable, IMO, but are not a final deliverable unto themselves typically. You need to understand GIS/Survey to make these final deliverables, and if you don’t, you really should be contracting that out to someone else, with you providing the data input to them for them to generate the deliverables.

Hi Both

@smathermather-cm @Saijin_Naib

Thank you both for your thoughts. Also thank you for the heads up on the potential for legal implications. The Parrot Anafi was a strong contender but I have eventually been persuaded to choose the Mavic 2 Pro as it offers a better camera.

To summarise my thoughts following your advice:

I Should walk before I try to run
I have been trying to peer into the future before I jump
I do not have sufficient knowledge of GIS/Survey to understand the steps that will be necessary even though it has been suggested by others that Pix4D will deliver the report but I am expecting that may be a tortuous journey in light of the advice you have given and most certainly involve more steps.
One step at a time, I shall take delivery of my first drone shortly and get the PfCO & OFQUAL 4 Accreditation Package - Online finished and under my belt.
During and after this I will have something to play about with and understand better which may facilitate a great number of additional enquiries in here moving forward.
I will be attempting to fully leverage free introductory periods on relevant software and also searching for competent open source products to enable my activities as they occur and I shall be looking at all of the products you have mentioned/recommended.

Thank you both.

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Hope you are well. If it helps I’m a Civil Engineer working in the UK. I would also conduct topo surveys, which ended up leading me to get a PfCO through my employer.

I wouldn’t worry so much about survey qualifications - its not like the US. They are optional, but obviously be careful in how you describe your experience and look carefully at any contract you take in if it details minimum credentials. Also its good practice to understand your accuracy so you don’t over promise and under-deliver.

You describe the image as a report. In reality what Saijin showed was a report. You could create your own version if needed but its only going to be breifly read then filed.

Your image is an AutoCAD survey shown in paperspace. In my work thats very nice (and sometimes asked for by the client to show deliverables) but as designers as well we want the vector data on model space, all rectified to the nation grid system (in our case Irish Grid). That will be copied or XREF’d in to be the base of our design. All the better if its in 3D.

My workflow would be the following;

  1. Plan in the office (Risk assessment & method statement to client) & flight plan
  2. Set out ground control with RTK rover (always record before you fly in case you have problems with specific markers)
  3. Fly the survey
  4. In the office, process with Pix4D Mapper, 1st stage
  5. Input GCPs & Check points, mark, then process stages 2 and 3
  6. For design, we use the 3d point cloud & ortho
  7. Import the point cloud to Cloud Compare, simply and remove noise
  8. Resultant point cloud to ReCap, import to Civil 3D, form existing ground surface (no filtering - already done)
  9. Extract levels
  10. Use ortho to trace linework
  11. Combine vector products as per your image above, plus ortho loaded in a separate drawing. Hand over.

You could use Pix4D survey or Virtual Surveyor for the last section. You might get away with a bit of trial and error with QGIS. The DXF export there has become very good.

I use Pix4D as I can gauge the accuracy of the output data. Depends what you require from it. There are probably a few jobs where I didn’t need it and could have used WebODM but there is no point getting my IT to install another program, especially at the minute.

I do keep watching WebODM and using it on my own equipment. Looking forward to the day we can dump the seriously expensive Pix4D!




Hi David.

Thank you so much for the workflow outline it has given me even more confidence that I am learning along an appropriate pathway.

Yes, regarding the image I supplied It is derived from a DWG file that we give to a CAD guy who uses AutoCad LT to produce Planning Application drawings and I am sure these will have date attached/embedded within them that you mentioned. I will find out about all of that at the appropriate time I expect.

Along with @smathermather-cm and @Saijin_Naib you have been most helpful.

I started my PfCO qualification from home yesterday, sadly financed by myself, but that gives me more reason to succeed I hope. My drone should arrive in the next couple of days so that I can start to awaken my ancient RC skills. Hopefully they are still in my head somewhere.

All of the software you have mentioned has been in my research activities so all of your posts help me to feel that I am now travelling the right road and I thank you.




Thank you. If you’ve any questions about the PfCO then send me a private message and I’ll try to help. Best of luck with it. You’re doing this at a rather odd time (never mind the Covid-19 lockdown!). The European rules are now due to come into force in November this year. Just make sure you pass both tests and submit your Ops Manual to the CAA well before then.

The PfCO will continue on as an Operational Authorisation (OA), so it is still valid beyond that date.

I’m actually due to submit our PfCO renewal very very soon so must get looking at any updates i need!!



L3LGH - I assume you are aware that the Mavic 2 Pro has a rolling shutter, and that you’ll need to stop at each photo waypoint, right?

Bob R.

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