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Budget-Friendly Drone Mapping Software (Cheapest Options)

Regardless of whether you’re an individual or a corporate entity using drones for a variety of uses, mapping is one of the biggest applications for drone technology up to date. Having an eye in the sky allows quick turnaround times, typically quicker than an on-the-ground inspection ever would. 

Although drones have been taking amazing aerial photos and ideas for years now, many industries and individuals were looking for advanced mapping and surveying options. Only recently has mapping software come around to a point where it can provide accurate mapping capabilities. Using this software, drones can map large areas quickly, cost-effectively, and provide high-quality aerial maps.

In this article, we have compiled a list of the best drone mapping software available, and the impact these software options will have on your budget. 

Top 5 Drone Mapping Software Options

Drone mapping software can be used by quite a number of industries, for example, military, construction, precision agriculture, site surveying, mining, forest management, and more, to create high-resolution mapping and images in real-time.

Nowadays, companies and individuals are spoiled for choice when deciding on the best drone mapping software to serve their needs. If you are in search of the best bang for your buck when it comes to drone mapping software, you’ve come to the right place. We have compiled a list of the best mapping software you could use, and how much it will set you back. 

Drone Mapping Software Price Comparison

Pro Plan (1 user) – $1,188/yearEducational license – $59Basic data processing – Free
Business Plan (1 user) – $3,588/yearStandard Edition license – $179Subscription – $3,500/yearAdvanced data processing – price depends on industry and regionSubscription – $2,950/year
Enterprise (multiple users) – custom pricingProfessional Edition license – $3,499Perpetual License – $4,990Perpetual License – $5,900
*example for comparison. Other Pix4D products have various pricing structures.

1. DroneDeploy

This easy-to-use mapping software is suited for both beginners and advanced users. DroneDeploy’s 3D modeling and mapping software is ideal for both single users as a mobile app and enterprise clients with an unlimited number of users. It has various autonomous flight features and options, including the ability to generate and view a 2D map of a specific area during flight.

This software facilitates automated flights from take-off to landing while automatically capturing images that you can upload to the software for processing. DroneDeploy offers amazing features such as annotations, rapid map processing (photos go straight from your drone to the software), real-time distance calculations, and much more.

This software was one of the early players in the drone mapping industry, and over the years, it has evolved to become a smooth, streamlined option for drone mapping. Some of its key features include:

  • Ability to instantly measure both volume and area.
  • Compatibility with a variety of DJI drones.
  • Potential for greater ROI than its competitors.
  • Rapid processing and accurate results.
  • All-in-one drone surveying and mapping software solution.
  • Easy access to your orthomosaics, NDVI data, 3D models, and interactive maps.

The DroneDeploy software has 3 pricing plans. The Pro Plan costs about $83 monthly. The Business Plan costs about $249 monthly and offers more features. There’s also the Enterprise Plan which features custom pricing.

2. Agisoft

Another good drone mapping software with over a decade of experience is Agisoft PhotoScan. It is a great software product for drone users, with the ability to perform photogrammetric processing of digital images and generate 3D spatial data aligned with panoramic stitching and support for fisheye lenses. You can use it in GIS applications and for indirect measurements of objects of various scales.

Started in 2006, Agisoft has come a long way and is one of the few Russian tech successes in the drone industry. This drone mapping software prides itself on being the best solution to professional 3D modeling needs for drone mapping.

It is well-suited and can offer a lot to a specialist who can adjust the workflow to numerous specific tasks and different data types. It can create point clouds and digital elevation models with ease. It has a fully automated and intuitive workflow that enables beginners to process thousands of aerial images on a desktop computer to produce professional class photogrammetric data.

This software was primarily intended for agricultural use. Still, despite this, it has top-of-the-line 3D modeling capabilities, and similar features have made it quite popular among civil engineers, media professionals, and GIS professionals. Some of its features include:

  • Powerful 3D mapping tools that include thermal, NIR, RGB, and advanced multispectral image support.
  • Highly capable of creating digital elevation models and point clouds. It can also take accurate measurements.
  • Provides access to high-quality professional imagery without additional costs. What this software offers is at par with the image quality provided by other expensive software.
  • Aerial and close-range triangulation.
  • True orthophoto generation.
  • High-accuracy surveying capabilities.

Unlike most drone mapping software in the market, Agisoft has a unique pricing approach based on a licensing model.

The first license model is the standalone model. The standalone fee costs $179 for the standard edition. The second license model is the educational license provided to properly registered educational institutions like schools, colleges, technical schools, and universities. This can be purchased individually by students and employees as well as an institution’s authorities. The subscription fee for this is $59 for educational institutions.

3. Pix4D

This software was founded in 2011 giving it close to a decade of experience in aerial imaging and mapping. This versatile software is aimed at more advanced users. It also places a focus on the enterprise-level crowd, which demands high-quality maps.

Originally, this drone mapping software only offered desktop-based solutions. They have, however, recently launched their mobile Pix4D capture app for both Android and iOS. It is a pioneering drone software developer who creates professional-grade georeferenced maps and models from drone-captured imagery.

Unlike other software, Pix4D has several versions for specific industries such as agriculture, surveying, mining, civil engineering, mapping and forensics, construction, etc. The benefit of this software is that you attain all the features required to carry out mapping for a certain industry, without having to pay for the features you don’t need. 

For example, in agriculture, you can create detailed digital surface maps allowing you to monitor crop health and plan crop cycles that’ll help increase crop yields. Some of its notable features include:

  • Hybrid user system, which is an excellent setup allowing users with high bandwidth to process images online and also allows offline users to process images locally on a PC.
  • Features training material and a certification course.
  • Can take any .jpg or .tif image from any drone camera and turn it into a high-resolution map that can be used and saved in over a dozen different formats.
  • Versatile and can connect with other platforms to create top-notch planning documents, yield predictions, site plans, etc., based on the industry.

Pricing is by subscription, either monthly or yearly, and it starts at $42 monthly.

4. PrecisionHawk (DataMapper)

This drone mapping software was released for free, which means that if you are a small business owner or an individual wanting to use your drone for a new venture, you can take this drone mapping software and use its stitching capabilities to gather together all your data or run analysis on this data for free.

It is a leading provider of commercial drone software and services to businesses and companies that use drone technology to gather business intelligence to make actionable decisions that can improve the way they’re doing business. PrecisionHawk is a bit more advanced for beginning users, but it’s still useful in situations requiring lots of careful monitoring.

Some industries that can benefit from this software include the energy, construction, and agriculture industries. Not only does this software support data from just about every drone available, but it also has an astonishing library of algorithms you can use for almost anything. This software is good if you need to analyze a ton of data. Some of its features include:

  • Large range of mapping options compared to other drone mapping software.
  • Large algorithm library that provides algorithm solutions for almost any kind of situation you can imagine.
  • Can cover extremely large area projects.
  • A wide range of sensor compatibility, whether hyperspectral, multispectral NDVI or simple volumetric measuring of maps. This means it can produce maps in topographic and orthomosaic formats.

There are two pricing subscription models, the free model, which comes with basic features, and the Professional paid model, which varies in price from region to region.

5. SimActive Correlator3D

This software offers image processing and mapping from various platforms, be it a drone, plane, or satellite. It features a very streamlined website and user interface, and it boasts some of the biggest names in the industry as its clients. SimActive software features extreme precision and survey-grade accuracy. It is also capable of processing data from almost any aerial imaging platform.

This software has a solid feature set and the support to back it up. Multiple Fortune 500 companies use this software, and it seems that it has made a name for itself in the aerial mapping market.

One of its strengths is the focus it places on providing accurate survey-grade maps. It’s also quite possibly has the fastest processing speed of any mapping software currently available.

This software has both monthly and yearly pricing plans, as well as a perpetual license option. The monthly cost is $295/month, or for an annual subscription, you pay $2,950/year. A perpetual license is $5,900. 

Best mapping software for your budget

If you’re looking for mapping software but you’re operating on a shoestring, the free data processing from PrecisionHawk is obviously your best bet. Or if you’re a student, you can go for the low-cost educational licensing option from Agisoft. 

For the other three options, if you choose a monthly payment arrangement, you’ll end up paying a bit more than if you pay your subscription annually. Or if you have the funds to buy the license, you’ll save money over the course of your business within 3-5 years.

The actual prices of DroneDeploy, Pix4D, and SimActive are fairly comparable if paid at the annual rate. If you want industry-targeted features only, and the ease of use that comes with a simplified package, Pix4D is a good choice, with the added benefit that you can choose a product that costs less than our selected example of Pix4Dmapper. DroneDeploy and SimActive also both offer high-quality end results, with payment plans that are affordable to most businesses, if you can’t afford the annual or license options. 

Image Credit: DroneDeploy