Which Drone Mapping Software Should You Use? Pix4D or DroneDeploy?

Drone mapping software can create maps as accurate as traditional survey methods. But which one should you choose?

I was in high school the first time I used a theodolite (a precision instrument used for measuring during surveys). Admittedly, my math skills could have been better back then. In fact, at the time, I felt like creating maps was a complicated process meant only for members of MENSA to undertake.

Although using similar equipment in the military helped clear up some of my confusion, it still seemed like there had to be a better method for mapping the earth’s surface. 

Fast forward to the present day, and drones have become the latest disruptive technology for mapping applications.

Thanks to the design and capabilities of UAVs, drones provide many advantages when using them to build maps.

With today’s technology, drones can create highly accurate maps in less time, at a lower cost, and more efficiently than traditional methods.

Now, you can utilize even entry-level prosumer drones for mapping applications. The high resolution of modern cameras, combined with accurate GPS positioning, allows UAVs to create incredibly detailed 2D and 3D maps. In fact, with the right equipment, the level of accuracy even reaches that of traditional survey methods

That said, along with the hardware needed for creating maps, drone mapping software remains just as important. In the early days of drone mapping, there were limited options available for processing images collected by UAV pilots.

In recent years, however, that’s all changed, with products on the market for all budgets and use cases.

Which Drone Mapping Software Program Should You Choose?

When it comes to drone mapping software, the biggest out there are DroneDeploy and Pix4D.

We’ll examine these two platforms for our discussion today, but first, a word on other drone mapping software solutions. 

With even a quick search of the internet, you’ll discover multiple drone mapping software choices available. Some are free, while others cost thousands of dollars. And, of course, not all drone mapping software is created equal.

You’ll want to consider if the software is designed for acquiring data, processing data, or as an all-in-one solution.

Further, keep in mind that some all-in-one solutions limit your ability to manipulate point clouds. If so, they may not be ideal if you’re looking for survey-level accuracy.

Now, let’s compare two of the most popular drone mapping software programs on the market: Pix4D and DroneDeploy, and try to determine which is best for you.

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Pix4D: Power with a Learning Curve

Pix4D is easily one of the most established mapping software programs in the UAV industry. Starting over a decade ago, in 2011, this Swiss company specializes in photogrammetry, in particular.

If you’re a drone pilot looking for professional mapping with the greatest control of your outputs, Pix4D is your software of choice. 

The company provides a suite of products that serve a wide range of industries. These include surveying and mapping, agriculture, construction, education, inspection, telecom, mining and aggregates, OEM and integrators, public safety, roofing, and digital twin services.  

That said, Pix4D isn’t quite as user-friendly as others on the market.

DroneDeploy, for example, makes it easier for new pilots to use mapping software (more on that, next.) But, once you get past the learning curve, Pix4D provides incredible control over your outputs.

Additionally, Pix4D processes data in the cloud, but also locally, if you wish, providing even more freedom in how you process your data.

And, though once among the most expensive drone mapping software options on the market, options now exist to suit all budgets.

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DroneDeploy: A Beginner-Friendly Solution

As far as drone mapping software goes, most consider DroneDeploy an all-in-one solution, with apps available for both Apple and Android devices.

Importantly, the platform’s user-friendly interface allows pilots to plan and fly missions without much effort.

Once you collect the data, you can upload it to the company’s cloud-based platform and process it into maps and other products. And, the applications for DroneDeploy are numerous.

You can use this drone mapping software in agriculture, construction, oil & gas, renewable energy, utility, property management, roofing, inspections, mining and quarries, professional services, education, and much more.

And, it’s an excellent product for 2D mapping, building assessments, and insurance inspections.  

However, because DroneDeploy processes your data in the cloud, operators looking to fix point clouds or refine their output will encounter less freedom than those using Pix4D. Pricing plans for the service can be billed annually for a discount, or monthly at a higher cost. 

For most pilots, DroneDeploy is a good place to begin, moving to a more in-depth software like Pix4D when you need more processing control.

Key Takeaways

Ok, so between Pix4D and DroneDeploy, which drone mapping software should you choose?

Well, the bottom line come down to this: For the most part, Pix4D and DroneDeploy have a lot in common, with the key difference being ease of use vs. advanced capabilities.

In my humble opinion, I recommend starting with DroneDeploy, and as you require more control over your outputs, switch to Pix4D.

So basically, deciding which drone mapping software is the best for you comes down to your needs and budget.

When evaluating platforms, always consider whether it is designed for acquiring or processing data. This will significantly impact the deliverables you can provide your clients. And, when in doubt, don’t be afraid to reach out for a free trial of a company’s software.

Many will provide a week or two of free use if you request it, even if they don’t specifically list it as an option.

And, of course, if you’re simply looking for someone to perform a large survey project for you without the hassle, you can always reach out to experts in the field.

So, are you ready to take advantage of drones for your organization? If so, how do you get started? Do you hire out or bring your drone program in-house?

At Consortiq, we help you find a better way with drones, from consultation and program implementation to actually doing the work for you.

Ready to learn more? Just complete the form below to schedule a risk-free consultation!

Picture of David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

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