CAD Linework Drawings from Drone Data for Engineers, Architects, and Land Development Projects

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CAD Linework from Drone Data for Residential Contruction

Recon Aerial conducted a drone mapping and surveying mission to assist an architectural firm in placing a home on a 10 acre, waterfront lot. Recon flew 3 flight missions at 170, 220, and 250 feet over 2.0 hrs taking approximately 800 images at various GSDs.

Traditionally, the architect/planner may need to visit the building site several times to ensure the proper placement of the dwelling in relation to setbacks, the elevation profile, property lines, sight-lines, access to the waterfront, and various other sites features, not so in this case.

Recon Aerial flew the property and provided our standard photogrammetric data package. The linework from drone data was used to create plan views and even section profiles to assist site development and planning.

The drone data was pivotal. It allowed the architect to fully understand the site details, place the home correctly in relation to the natural site features and meet their clients’ constraints in relation to the build and to the covenants held with the condominium purchase agreement.  In fact, additional planning in relation to a road was required given the substantial elevation changes discovered via the aerial drone survey.

CAD Linework from Drone Data for Engineering and Civil Projects

Recon Aerial was tasked with conducting a drone flight operation to create a layered as-built drawing for an urban site.

The drawing was included a standard set of site features including, spot elevations, curbs, sidewalks, roads, paths, curbs, buildings, building heights, sewer grates, utility manholes, and more.

The mission was planned in autonomous software to fly 10 acres at 400 feet to capture the site. The team undertook the flight operation in approximately 30 minutes producing 155 images. While onsite the team took both base station data and ground control points to be used in data processing to correct the geo-referenced orthomosaic. The total time on site was approximately 1.5 hrs.

Following site activities, the data was processed producing a highly accurate layered  AutoCAD .dwg file, assets, and a .pdf file for delivery to the client. The project from beginning to end was undertaken in about 7 days. If you would like to download a sample PDF please select HERE.

If you would like more info on pricing or to get in touch we would be pleased to answer your questions.

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CAD Linework from Drone Data for Larger Scale Land Development

Another excellent opportunity to demonstrate the power of creating linework from drone data is found in a project that we completed at a remote site in Ontario.

Recon Aerial was tasked with mapping approximately 50 acres of virgin woodland in leaf-off conditions. The goal of the project was to create a .dwg and linework for upwards of 10 structures and multiple site features such as trails, roads, buildings, septics setbacks, highwater mark, etc. such that the client could submit planning documentation to the local municipality.

Recon Aerial used the Phantom 4 to collect an estimated 800 images over 1.5 hours, which were subsequently processed in photogrammetric software and duly annotated in AutoCAD.


Recon Aerial provides professional-quality linework from drone data delivered in AutoCAD. Our clients use our AutoCAD exports mainly for planning purposes, and to create industrial as-builts.

drafted line work from drone data delivered in autocad format For each project, discuss with the client the planimetric features to be extracted from the aerial data. We then plan the autonomous drone flights, set up ground control points, and fly the site to capture the drone data. We then process the data to produce standard drone photogrammetry exports and an accurate, geo-referenced orthoimage of the site.

 With the orthoimage complete, and corrected using ground control, we extract the planimetric features such as spot elevations, structures, property boundaries, setbacks, utility infrastructure, trees, roads, curbs, sidewalks, paint striping, breaklines, 1′ contours intervals, and more!

These highly accurate drawings and even as-built .dwg site drawings are used to update existing documentation and for planning and development. 

Recon aerial produces high-quality, accurate, and feature-rich CAD linework from drone data for land development and civil engineering-related projects.


This simple answer is, planimetric feature extraction using aerial data saves time AND money. For example, the mapping flight required to capture data from a 10-acre site takes minutes to complete. For a 10-acre site, drone mapping operations take approximately 3-4 hours to complete, including ground control/survey point collection.

Additionally, aerial data is used to create feature-rich as-built CAD drawings, with far more detail than traditional cadastral or topographic surveys. This vastly improves site planning and development goals. For example, an industrial property located near water may wish to create a drainage network drawing use drone to autoCAD services to ensure that a potential release is captured by the spill prevention infrastructure.  This information can then be incorporated into the environmental release management plan. autocad-exports-from-drone-data

The relative and absolute accuracy of the final product is very good. The last project we completed had an average error of 14 mm in XYZ. This means that the absolute location of a given feature whether it’s a manhole or the corner of a building is within 14mm of its actual location as shown on the exported CAD drawing.

Having accurate drawings is crucial to taking measurements and planning site development activities.


Drone-based Photogrammetric Exports Deliverables

As part of our linework deliverable, we provide the following file exports for each drone flight operation. These exports can be easily incorporated into engineering, architectural workflows:

1. Orthomosaic
2. 3D Mesh
3. .las point cloud
4. DTM Classified LAS
5. DSM
6. Contours from Classified LAS
7. Clean Top Tin

This photogrammetric drone-based data can be used for planning, measurements, 3D modeling, and much more in software programs such as Leica Geosystems TruView, QGIS, Agisoft, 3DF Zephr, Autodesk Recap, Revit and Navisworks, Bently Context Capture, Correlator3D, Trimble Inpho, Reality Capture, and Pix4D


Drone-based Photogrammetric/AutoCAD Exports

In addition to photogrammetry exports, we provide a set of planimetric exports (CAD drawings) as part of the deliverable. These drawings are typically created for clients who need as-built drawings or a master plan for their site. We also produce CAD drawings from drone aerial imaging for engineers, land developers and similar clients who need a base map layer of their site for planning purposes. Whether we are creating as-builts or development drawings the client chooses the feature set that is required.  

Generally, our CAD drawings feature set includes roads, curbs, paint striping, building outlines, building elevations at height, spot elevations, pathways, fences, manholes, storm drains, transformers, light standards, utility infrastructure, lagoons, ponds, hydrants, sidewalks, building labels, GCPs, trees, contour intervals, breaklines and more.

A standard deliverable has three Autocad .dwg drawings:
– planimetric features,
– breaklines, and
– planimetric DTM.

We can also provide a section drawing to highlight site elevation changes if required.


Who Uses Planimetric AutoCAD Exports?

Recon Aerial typically provides planimetric AutoCAD exports to engineering firms, architects, city planners, GIS professionals, property developers, permaculture professionals, large industrial clients, and more.

The power of integrating drone surveys and topographic base mapping data directly into a planning workflow is incredible. It provides a new perspective and truly speeds up the planning process.

Most recently we have transformed aerial drone survey to CAD line work for a permaculture study, industrial as-built for a 50-acre facility, water study for a quarry and related works, subdivision development for an engineering company, commercial site development for an engineering company, private home development, and an as-built for a multi-use development. We have also been approached by mining companies, telecoms and others who truly see the benefit in what we have created.