Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been capturing a lot of attention as a new mapping and survey solution.  However, it is important to understand the limitations before you consider hiring one for your next project.


UAV’s or UAS , commonly referred to as drones, have been creating new opportunities for businesses and building awareness behind the science of photogrammetry and aerial mapping.  The truth is, drones have been creating more regulatory challenges for aviation authorities around the world.  What do these challenges mean to you and your enterprise? How do you wish to handle the increase risk of accident associated to your project?   Do drones really offer value in respect to cost and efficiency?


Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles which have proven to crash under human operation.  Governments and aviation authorities are well aware of these risks and have closely been governing the operation of drones with strict regulations.  Current regulations make the use of drones nearly impossible within urban areas.  These regulations by Transport Canada state that a drone shall not operate more 90m above ground, must maintain 30m – 75m clearance from vehicles, be more than 5.5km away from an airport, and operate with a distance not more than 500m between the drone and pilot.  The current fine for breaching these regulations is up to $3,000.00, and new regulations is about to increase fines to over $30,000.00.

When you consider these regulations,it is nearly impossible for drones to operate safely and legally within urban areas.  Unless the drone is being operated in one of China’s “ghost towns”, it is impossible to maintain the minimum distance from vehicles, or operate within line of sight.

How does the imposed risk of a drone compare to FastMap’s technology.  FastMap acquires SmartMaps at thousands of feet about ground, far away from the harm of people and without disturbance from inbound and outbound air traffic.  With FastMap, there is no risk as those associated to drones.  FastMap also acquires entire cities in just a day or less, making our acquisition efficiency quicker than  traditional aerial survey and much more efficient than drone.

But how does image resolution compare?  FastMap’s camera system uses high powered metric cameras capable of collecting 5cm imagery of cities in less than a day, so image resolution is comparable to drones.  SmartMaps produced by FastMap also include 3D elevation models which are collected using LiDAR sensors.  Elevation data from SmartMaps is far more accurate than camera based UAV systems, especially in vegetated and urban areas where bare ground can be hard to identify using a pixel based approach.


This sounds expensive, how does the cost of drone surveys compare to FastMaps Mapping-as-a-Service (MaaS) application?  UAV operations typically cost $5,000 or more for a single day of flight, which is limited to captures less than 10 km2 in a day from a single UAV.  FastMap offers access to tens of thousands of square kilometers updated multiple times per year for as little as $98/month. FastMap customers get access to all imagery and elevation data including concurrent updates and access to historical imagery.  FastMap customers do not have store large files and can always rely on the most current and accurate imagery and elevation data.

Okay, but drones can produce a finished product quicker and traditional aerial surveys take  months to produce.  That is correct, but FastMap technology is not your standard aerial survey system and processing workflow. Beyond FastMaps efficient acquisition, the production workflow leverages high GPU and server based computing, combined with proprietary systems that can process entire cities within a few days of acquisition.  This is often quicker than most drone companies can produce a single days flight within, which is far smaller than the entire cities FastMap is collecting.

Cost Comparison

Lets assume you are using a UAV on a single project.  Now, lets assume the average cost of a UAV survey is as little as $3,500.00 for that project.  Since FastMap starts at only $98/month paid annually, which includes access to majority of Canada’s cities, FastMap is therefore half the cost of a single UAV!  Assuming you have multiple projects which require a drone survey, just imagine how much FastMap can save you!

To get your free trial of FastMap please visit register here.

About FastMap

FastMap is enabling governments and private enterprise to map reality through Mapping-as-a-Service (MaaS), a cost effective geospatial data solution. FastMap is frequently capturing cities and developed areas throughout Canada to produce SmartMaps which contain astonishing aerial imagery and accurate elevation maps. SmartMaps are managed by FastMap and delivered through the FastView web map or into your GIS and CAD products.

Users are saving time and money by reducing site visits and working more efficiently, using current and high resolution aerial maps produced by FastMap.

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