Drone Imagery vs Google Maps

A comparison of drone imagery to Google maps imagery

Mission Summary

  • Goal: To compare Google maps images to drone images 
  • Tech: Walkera Tali H500 hexacopter drone, Gitup Git2 actioncam, Tower app, Drone Deploy
  • Conditions: Early arvo, Windy, Scattered cloud
  • Outcome:  It's easy to see that drone imagery provides higher levels of detail compared to Google imagery.

I've heard the question a few times before; "What's the advantage of using drone (small scale, low altitude aerial imagery) over using Google maps or satellite imagery?"

The other day, I had just finished processing some imagery I had taken of the shearing shed on the farm and it was suddenly very obvious to me that I had the answer to the above question. Below you'll see a series of images of a 2D map created with Drone Deploy from a survey I made using my Tali H500 hexacopter with Gitup Git2 action camera.

Summary screen from Drone Deploy of mapped area and the surrounding area in Google maps

A closer look at the difference in the imagery. Check out the details of the map on the left side.

It's easy to see detail in the shed, pen, parked car, trees and water tank. This was only on half zoom.

The detail from Google maps of the same area around the shearing shed, pen, trees and water tank.
Not all of Google maps imagery is from a satellite, more and more of it is being updated with manned aerial photography, especially in the populous areas. Around the cities resolutions can get around 20cm/pixel but it rural areas this resolution can often drop to around 50cm/pixel. As you can also see from the images above, other major drawback is the 'timeliness' of the imagery. You don't know when it was taken and often Google imagery can be months if not years old.

Drone imagery on the other hand is 'real time', with turn around times of hours or days between taking the images and delivering the map. Also, because drones fly low (under 100m) the detail in the images can be very high (2cm/pixel).

In my next article I'll look at comparing these two sources of aerial maps and how easy it is to use them for a basic 'planning' map.

This has been another 'drone adventure' in aerial surveying, inspection and mapping by The Aero Scout.
Location: Carlotta WA 6275, Australia