3D Mapping - Intro to Drone Deploy

by FliteTest | March 14, 2016 | (5) Posted in How To

Josh and Austin tested Drone Deploy’s beta structural 3D mapping software using the Flite Test Phantom 3!

Drone Deploy created a processing infrastructure and mobile app that makes creating topographical and 3D maps very easy.

Right now the main applications for Drone Deploy are agricultural monitoring, mining yard volume measuring, and construction-related surveying, but the uses for mission-based flight planning are growing every day.

To use Drone Deploy, download the free app for iOS or Android. Make sure you close the DJI app when you run Drone Deploy, because only one app can talk to the drone at a time. It’s also a good idea to ensure your quad’s firmware is up to date.

When you open the app, Drone Deploy makes a grid and senses a flight path to determine how many photos it will take and in what order it will take them. The blue box is the area you would like to map and the green lines are the flight path. 

The app allows you to adjust the altitude. Taking the photos at lower altitudes will result in a higher resolution map and reduce inaccuracies when the software stitches the map together. One way to reduce inaccurate stitching is to use a high percentage overlap. This adds more reference points for the software and will create a more accurate map.

Drone Deploy also features an automatic pre-flight checklist. After it completes the checklist, click “Fly” and the drone will begin its mapping mission. During flight, the app provides a live feed of the drone’s path on the grid as well as speed and when it takes photos.

For 3D structural mapping, you will need to complete an additional step: do another flight at the same altitude using the DJI Go app. Select “Point of Interest Mode” and select point of interest, altitude, the radius of your orbit and orbit speed. Generally a 30 meter orbit radius is sufficient. You’ll also want to tilt the camera about 45 degrees toward your subject instead of straight down. You can find a great tutorial for this process here.

When the flight is complete, upload the photos from both your Drone Deploy mission and your DJI Go orbit flight to your online Drone Deploy account, and it will stitch the data into a 3D or topographical map. This process usually takes a couple hours, and Drone Deploy will email you when the processing is complete.

The finished product from our flight was an orthomosaic model of Furey Field. This is a beautiful, geo-referenced composite image of digital terrain and elevation data.

If you’re just getting started using Drone Deploy, forum.dronedeploy.com is a great resource!


jackweed on April 1, 2016
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TriTriAgain on March 16, 2016
Pretty legit stuff!
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s0berlin on March 16, 2016
If you guys are interested I have been working with photogrammetry for the past while now. I have been breaking down aerial and terrestrial data and merging it in some cases to do 3D reconstruction of buildings and landscapes. I plan on coming down for flite fest and would be willing to help you out in capturing this information and also showing you some of the options from translating that information back out in visual and physical representations.
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andre on March 17, 2016
I enjoyed that. Makes me want to dust off my naughty APM quad.
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staphen on April 13, 2016
so interesting :) can i know how many acres can be cover per flight by phantom 3 for aerial photo.
im just wander if i have to flight for 69hacters how many time i have to flight?
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Michael9865 on March 15, 2016
Cool app
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3D Mapping - Intro to Drone Deploy