Large areas, slopes, and rock outcrops can be surveyed with centimetre-scale accuracy within limited time and costs.  Images acquired from an RPAS are used to create digital surface models and 3-D point clouds.  Further analysis can provide volume estimates, change detection, and multi-band image classification.  Some example applications are presented below.

Drone derived 3D Model
Rock outcrop overhanging a major road in Western Norway with a 660 cubic meter volume
determined by an RPAS-derived 3-D model.
NGI drone application picture 2
Site grading and deposit volume measurements for a landfill derived from RPAS images
and represented above as (a) a photorealistic orthographic projection,
and (b) a high-resolution digital surface model. 
NGI drone application picture 1
NGI drone application picture 3
A shallow landslide surveyed with several hundred RPAS images to create (a, b) photorealistic orthographic projections,
and (c) a high-resolution digital surface model.
Snow cover with ground-thruthed snow depths mapped with RPAS images for a roadside avalanche path and represented above as a photorealistic orthographic projection.


Expertise at NGI

NGI has carried out internal R&D on RPAS opportunities for geohazard and general geological / geotechnical mapping starting in 2015 and became a Norwegian certified, commercial RPAS operator in the same year. In 2021, NGI operates seven small aircraft with a multitude of different onboard sensor types for surveying.  NGI continues to apply RPAS tools in many different research and consulting projects.

RPAS related services

  • High-resolution 3-D mapping
  • Volume calculations
  • Automatic detection of joint sets
  • Slope stability monitoring
  • Multispectral mapping and thermal infrared imaging
  • Licensed Norwegian RPAS operator (RO1)
  • Training in geoscience related RPAS operation

Equipment in use at NGI

Aircraft: DJI Phantom series (DJI Phantom 4 Professional, Phantom 4 RTK)

Sensors: RGB cameras, Parrot Sequoia multispectral camera, FLIR thermal camera

Software: Professional 3-D modelling software (Agisoft Metashape Pro, InnovMetric Polyworks, Maptek PointStudio); Professional geospatial analysis and mapping software (Esri ArcGIS products, Trimble eCognition)