Available with Advanced license.
ArcGIS includes several options for creating products from drone imagery. This topic focuses on ArcGIS Pro. If you want a desktop application, consider using ArcGIS Drone2Map. If your organization needs a software-as-a-service (SaaS) capability, use Site Scan for ArcGIS.
The proliferation of camera drones and the fast development of photogrammetry have made it possible for GIS professionals, land managers, and many others to capture their own data and process it to create a wide variety of geospatial products.
Camera drones used for mapping capture consecutive images/frames with overlaps higher than 70% to allow the photogrammetric algorithms to use the redundant information to increase the resultant accuracy. The resulting images can be used for inspection purposes or turned into digital surface models (DSMs), true orthos, point clouds, and 3D meshes. These photogrammetric products can then be used as part of many applications, like city or infrastructure planning, flood simulations, visibility analysis, and more.
Generating high quality results out of imagery can be elaborate and often requires specialized tools. Usually, the process starts by improving the relative orientation of the images and ensuring that the results will be correctly georeferenced. The involved algorithms also need to be robust to a wide range of image qualities and acquisition parameters. Once the alignment process is finished, a reconstruction process leverages the improved orientations to triangulate positions in space that are later used to generate the final products.
ArcGIS Pro enables users to create traditional orthomosaics, digital terrain models (DTMs), DSMs, true orthos, point clouds, and 3D meshes out of drone imagery.
To create orthomosaics and DTMs, use the ortho mapping capability, which is part of ArcGIS Pro Advanced. To create DSMs, true orthos, point clouds, and 3D meshes, as well as ortho mapping results, make use of the reality mapping capability, which is a part of ArcGIS Reality for ArcGIS Pro.
Both the ortho mapping and reality mapping capabilities offer a wizard experience that allows users to easily create multiple products in a single processing.
Use the following high-level workflow to create drone imagery products:
- Create a reality mapping or ortho mapping workspace and input your drone imagery data.
- Remove geometric distortions and perform a block adjustment, which transforms/configures overlapped imagery to calculate the image orientation using ground control points and metadata about the drone camera and elevation.
- Generate the imagery as a 2D or 3D mesh, point cloud, or true ortho product.
Explore the following resources to learn more about using ortho mapping in ArcGIS Pro to generate products from drone imagery. (Not sure where to start? Look for the star by Esri's most helpful resources.)
To use this workflow, you'll need ArcGIS Pro Standard or ArcGIS Pro Advanced with the ArcGIS Reality for ArcGIS Pro extension. You can publish data products to ArcGIS Online or your ArcGIS Enterprise portal. Viewing image pairs in stereo requires ArcGIS Image Analyst or ArcGIS Pro Advanced.
Imagery Workflows resources
Review the community-supported tools and best practices for working with and automating imagery and remote sensing workflows:
- Try a hands-on ortho mapping tutorial for processing drone imagery using sample data from the Imagery Workflows website.*
Review the following links on reference materials for ArcGIS products:
- Read an overview of ArcGIS Reality for ArcGIS Pro.
- Get answers to frequently asked questions about ArcGIS Reality for ArcGIS Pro.
- Review specific workflows for generating DSMs, DSM meshes, True Orthos, point clouds, or 3D meshes with ArcGIS Reality for ArcGIS Pro.
- Reality mapping help:
- Ortho mapping help:
ArcGIS blogs, articles, story maps, and technical papers
Review the following supplemental guidance about concepts, software functionality, and workflows:
- Read about how ArcGIS Reality supports drone imagery product generation.
- Read a series of introductory blog articles about ortho mapping, including Getting Organized with a Workspace, Getting Adjusted, and Getting Results.
- Read about Esri's free drone flight planning app to help capture high-quality data.
Review the following Esri-produced videos that clarify and demonstrate concepts, software functionality, and workflows:
- See how drone imagery—captured with the Site Scan fly app—can be used to create a foundation for a digital twin of Fort McDowell using ArcGIS Reality for ArcGIS Pro.
Training and tutorials
Review the following guided lessons and tutorials based on real-world problems and key ArcGIS skills:
- Take a tutorial to learn how to create drone imagery products in ArcGIS Reality for ArcGIS Pro.
Review the following resources and support for automating and customizing workflows:
- Review a guide on automating ortho mapping workflows and learn about using the arcgis.raster.ortho mapping module in ArcGIS API for Python.
- Use ArcGIS REST API calls to control ortho mapping on a suitably configured server using remote web calls (use the Compute Sensor Model operation to perform block adjustment).
Review the following troubleshooting resources from Esri's tech support team:
Use the online imagery community to connect, collaborate, and share experiences:
- Ask the ArcGIS Reality Community questions about creating drone imagery products.
- Manage preprocessed orthophotos
- Create drone imagery products using ArcGIS Drone2Map
- Capture drone imagery with Site Scan Flight for ArcGIS
- Create drone imagery products using Site Scan Manager for ArcGIS
- Create scanned aerial imagery products using ArcGIS Pro
- Create satellite imagery products using ArcGIS Pro
- Create digital aerial imagery products using ArcGIS Pro
- Visualize stereo imagery
- Manage and visualize oriented imagery