Fast, non-invasive, high-resolution solutions
If you are looking to document a cultural heritage or archaeological site, then the most effective viewpoint is most often from the air. Traditionally, conducting aerial surveys of sites requires the use of expensive piloted vehicles. With the recent developments of unmanned aerial vehicles (known as UAVs or drones) it is now possible to record sites from above both affordably, and with speed and efficiency.
By their very nature, heritage and archaeological sites require that great care be taken not to disturb their surrounding environment. Drones allow for low-risk, pinpoint-accurate, and high-speed photogrammetric surveys to be conducted and can enter what would normally be inaccessible or delicate site locations both effortlessly and without damaging the environment.
This drone footage of historical Lewes Priory in Lewes, East Sussex – where we are based – was our UAV’s maiden voyage!
Advantages of UAV surveying
The benefits of using UAVs for photogrammetric surveying are that their speed, position, and stabilisation can be controlled extremely accurately, so sequential, blur-free aerial photographs of a site can easily be taken, which can then be used to create 3D point clouds, digital terrain models, contour maps, or be merged into a 2D or 3D orthomosaic image.
Moreover, due to the low cost involved, multiple potential archaeological sites can be scouted, rather than focussing all of your efforts on a single location, and the ability to quickly take interchangeable low-altitude aerial shots from vertical, horizontal, and oblique angles allows for a high degree of precision and flexibility which simply cannot be achieved by traditional means alone, or by terrestrial surveying.
While technologies such as Lidar can reveal much about the topographical features of a site, they cannot penetrate the soil. Drones can be fitted with various cameras such as thermal infrared cameras, which can reveal the presence of subsurface stone structures due to the differing heat signatures of the soil and stone and as such, reduce the need for preliminary investigative excavations.
UAV technical specifications
Our UAV is a DJI S900 which is fitted with a Panasonic Lumix GH4 camera. It films at 4K resolution and takes 16 megapixel HD photographs, which capture a great amount of detail and clarity. For further information about our camera drone, please see Our Aircraft.
Our office is in Lewes, East Sussex in the UK, but we will travel to wherever you are based in the world to help you achieve precision aerial surveys.