After watching the webinar about drones on the ASLA website, I decided to take a further look into how drones can be a helpful tool for landscape architects and provide my own thoughts. The use of drones for marketing is a very useful tool that I believe all firms should take advantage of. The ability to get views of the landscape from above eye level improves the quality of photos that could make up a firm’s portfolio. Photos taken by drones give a unique view of the site that captures angles and views a regular eye level picture would not bee able to capture. Aerial pictures captured by drones also provide a unique view of sites. These images can be useful for scouting out sites, looking at the site during construction, and how the site looks after construction. Drones allow the designer to see the site in context with a continuous moving image. This is useful at those three stages previously mentioned, pre-construction, during construction, and after construction.
The other big advantage of drone imaging is the effectiveness of drone images in 3D model making. Drone images can be combined with 3D modeling and rendering softwares to provide an aerial view of a site design/concept that includes much of the surrounding context and landforms. For example, a SketchUp model that is then rendered in Lumion can be overlayed onto an aerial image taken by a drone.
This allows rendered models to be seen in context with the surrounding area. Models and design can start to come to life and be visualized realistically. This is all in part to the drone providing an aerial image that is clear and accurate. Drones are phenomenal tools for designers and for firms to use as marketing tools.
One of the more fascinating things drones can help with is data visualization. In the site analysis portion of a project, drones can be very helpful in collecting and then visualizing that data collected. One the more common pieces of data drones can help collect is topography and its characteristics. From what I have been able to find while looking around is that drones can provide topography information that may not be very accurate in areas that have vegetation. This is because the vegetation is preventing the drone from reading the ground. But where there is no vegetation, across open fields or hardscape features, the topography generated by the drone is accurate. So drones can provide a pretty good preliminary topography analysis of the site. Based off of the topography, elevation maps can also be generated through the drone imagery. These tools are very helpful in the early stages of design to analyze a site.
Drones can be a very helpful and insightful tool for landscape architects from the beginning of a project by providing site analysis all the way to the end of a project by providing images of the final product for portfolio use or to show clients.