Drone Mapping With DJI Terra

Drone Mapping With DJI Terra

DJI Terra is an easy-to-use drone mapping software, developed to help industry professionals transform real-world scenarios into digital assets. See our exclusive data sets to see how powerful DJI Terra is.

21 minute read

UPDATE (May 28, 2021): New features: Cluster computing mode,  significantly improving efficiency and ideal for large-scale reconstructions. Supports processing LiDAR point cloud collected by Zenmuse L1. Increased processing speeds.

UPDATE (March 29, 2021): View exclusive data sets - collected by heliguy™ with the M300 RTK and P1/L1 cameras - showing the capabilities of drone mapping software, DJI Terra, and the power of using the DJI ecosystem for an end-to-end surveying solution.

UPDATE (December 2020): A new update has been released for the DJI Terra drone mapping software, adding support for offline operations and generating a camera calibration file for photos taken with the Zenmuse P1 camera.

UPDATE (August 17, 2020): A new update has been released for the DJI Terra drone mapping software, making it 400 times faster than before, and increasing map and model accuracy.

New data sets, collected exclusively by heliguy™, show the capabilities of DJI Terra as a professional drone mapping software platform.


As these examples demonstrate, DJI Terra is an incredibly powerful tool for creating highly-detailed 3D models - particularly useful for visual inspections, and can be used to conduct first-phase analysis with a suite of measurement tools.


DJI Terra can also be utilised for LiDAR drone mapping, helping to build dense point-cloud representations of the real world.




These sample data sets were collected using the DJI M300 RTK with the DJI Zenmuse LiDAR sensor (pictured, below left) and the DJI Zenmuse P1 photogrammetry camera (pictured, below right).



This workflow highlights how the DJI aerial mapping ecosystem can be utilised for an end-to-end surveying solution.

What Is DJI Terra?

DJI Terra is a drone surveying software tool that transforms drone data into digital 3D models - like the one below - and 2D maps for easy analysis and decision-making.


This package enables businesses and organisations using DJI drone technology to capture, visualise and analyse aerial images for a variety of applications across the public safety, construction, infrastructure, agriculture and film industries.

DJI Terra is compatible with a range of DJI products, including the Phantom 4 RTK. A full list of compatible drones/cameras are highlighted later in this blog. 

Four licences are available for DJI Terra - Agriculture, Pro, Electricity, and Cluster. The Electricity License was added in 2020 to provide new optimisations for powerline modelling, helping enterprise users create detailed 3D reconstructions of thin powerlines.

The Cluster licence was introduced in 2021 to enable multiple computers to conduct computations simultaneously, significantly improving efficiency, and is fit for large-scale reconstructions. 

Scroll further down this blog to see the differences between the four licenses.

Depending on the licence, the Terra tool will allow organisations to carry out real-time mapping and generate high-quality 2D and 3D reconstructions and measurements, among other things.

DJI Terra For Drone Photogrammetry

Our sample data sets show the power of DJI Terra for photogrammetry; the art of capturing high-resolution photographs to recreate a survey area.


DJI Terra's 3D models and 2D orthomosaics (more of that later) can be used for industrial applications like reconstructing vehicle crashes, tracking progress and spotting for mistakes on construction projects or conducting large-scale critical infrastructure inspections on bridges and roadways.

Photogrammetry data can also be used to conduct calculations and measurements (again, more of that later).

3D MODELLING WITH DJI TERRA

One of the most effective aspects of DJI Terra is its ability to recreate sharp and realistic 3D models - especially when used in conjunction with the high-resolution 45MP full frame P1 camera.

In many ways, it is bordering on reality capture. Take this image, for example, which is a highly-detailed representation of one of our survey sites - a farm in Northumberland, UK - with data collected by the P1.



Not only are the buildings clear and crisp - including key detailing of brickwork and varying roof conditions - but the model has fully replicated smaller items in the scene, such as the bins to the bottom right of the image.

Having such a robust data set is truly valuable to people who are utilising this for decision-making and information sharing.

The 3D modelling capabilities of DJI Terra are further endorsed when comparing to an alternative software; in this case, Pix4Dmapper.

This part of the model, for instance: The first image being created through DJI Terra, the second via the alternative mapping software, using the same data collected by the M300 RTK and P1.





The Terra model is incredibly intricate.

The shed is replicated in its entirety, with nice clean, clear edges, and no distortion or warping. Meanwhile, the map has enough detail to enable the viewer to clearly see the items in the shed to the right of the image.

In the foreground, the JCB is razor sharp: Even the cab has been replicated in extremely clear detail.

The second image - while not a bad model - is not as clear as the DJI Terra data set: The building facades are slightly distorted, the items in the shed are more difficult to distinguish, and the JCB - with its blurry cab - almost appears to be melting into the ground.

Another example - this time of the farm house - reiterates this. Again, the first image is DJI Terra, the second is using the alternative software.



Clearly, the model built in DJI Terra is a more defined, higher-resolution creation.

This in turn helps to pick out the small details. Note, for instance, how the Terra data set has replicated the three chimneys, giving the structures texture and shape and highlighting their intricate features. Meanwhile, you can clearly see the letter box, widows and even the door knob on the front door.

In comparison, the alternative software is unable to replicate these fine details. Again, it's not a bad model, but the chimneys are more blocky, with minimal texturing. And while the letter box can be distinguished, the front door is missing the windows and door knob.

Interestingly, the data collected for both of these missions was done so autonomously, each during a single drone flight, using the P1's Smart Oblique Capture mode - which captures only essential imagery.


So, adding manual data capture to supplement the initial flight would further enhance these models across both software platforms.

2D Orthomosaic

Just like the 3D models, DJI Terra can create sharp and detailed 2D orthomosaics.

Take these series of images, captured from 80 metres flight altitude with the P1 and the 35 mm fixed-focus lens (the P1 can also use a 24 or 50 mm fixed-focus lens).





The combination of DJI Terra and the P1 is so good that you can count the number of holes in the bricks (third image) when zooming in to the orthomosaic.

It is incredible detail; detail which can greatly aid analysists who are looking for subtle or finer points on a digital map - such as during crime-scene investigation or for spotting issues on a construction site.

And the fact you can achieve this level of detail from 80m flight altitude greatly assists with the efficiency of data collection - covering more ground at any given time.

In fact, during our tests, the P1 yielded a ground sample distance of 1.18 cm at 80 metres. It even achieved a GSD of 0.63 cm from 50 metres - which would result in an even higher resolution map!

DJI Terra also has real-time mapping capabilities, allowing drone pilots to quickly generate 2D orthomosaic maps as the drone flies, ideal for time-sensitive missions where situational awareness is critical and decisions need to be made in minutes.

Although, we did not use this real-time feature during the M300 RTK-P1 mission; rather, we used DJI Pilot, and processed the data on Terra post-mission.

DJI Terra's Analysis Tools

In addition to map and model creation, DJI Terra helps users analyse data and generate instant insights with easy-to-use measurement and analysis tools, including linear distance, surface area and volumetric estimations, and coordinates.




These tools are ideal for conducting first-phase analysis.

The ability to measure volumes and areas is very usual for stockpiling and construction planning. Instead of having to export the raw data out of Terra and perform analysis in a GIS software, you have direct access to analysis features within Terra itself.

Volume measurements are a common use of photogrammetric data as the density of data is far denser than what you can achieve with terrestrial surveying, ultimately meaning it is more accurate.

 



Likewise, ability to count items and measure coordinates is an intuitive and absolute way of gathering data from site.

In addition, to improve team communication and reporting throughout ongoing projects, annotation labels can be edited and shared using DJI Terra.

Ground control points can also be imported in WGS84 or an arbitrary coordinate system.


FAST-PROCESSING

DJI Terra is a locally-based software, so no photo upload is required. Uploading only comes into play when working on a cloud-based platform as you need to upload to the internet.

With this in mind, it took us just over 8 hours to process 390 images collected from the farm site, and 14 and a half hours to process 621 images from our second test site in the North East of England.



In terms of speed, the M300 RTK - P1 combination is an efficient data collection method, which is capable of covering 3 km ² in a single flight.

And the P1's Smart Oblique Capture Mode can help shave up to 50% off post-processing times by only collecting essential imagery.

For instance, during Smart Oblique Capture Mode at the farm site, the P1 (90°, standard images; 45°, oblique images) collected just shy of 400 images.

In a separate test, the P1 took almost 1,000 images across the same site, while flying in a double-grid pattern with the gimbal fixed at 60°. This in turn was reflected in the post-processing speed, with the double-grid mission taking double the amount of time.

Read more about our tests in our M300 RTK-P1 sample data sets blog.

DJI TERRA FOR LIDAR

DJI Terra offers a comprehensive solution for LiDAR data processing - engineered exclusively for the L1 LiDAR sensor.



DJI Terra fuses the IMU and GNSS data for point cloud and visible light calculations, in addition to conducting POS data calculations so you can effortlessly generate reconstructed models and accuracy reports.

It also offers rapid data processing - taking us just three minutes to process our data from a 30-minute mission.

And the results? A reliable model. For instance, this image below shows a fairly complete recreation of the survey site - especially when reviewing the tops of the buildings, which appear dense and fully-formed.


Admittedly, there are areas of the model which aren't quite as comprehensive, such as the sides of the barns, but this is down to the fact that the gimbal was fixed at a 90° angle for the duration of the flight. This made it more difficult to capture a dense set of points to fully flesh out the side profiles of the buildings.

However, a reorientation of the gimbal would significantly improve the intensity of the point cloud in these areas.

The DJI Terra-L1 combination also helped to identify intricate details on the survey site, such as powerlines in front of the farm buildings. As these images show, this was not the case on the map created using photogrammetry techniques, which missed off these powerlines as they were too fine a detail.

 

 

When it comes to post-processing, DJI Terra supports the following colour modes:

  • Visible
  • Reflectivity rate (see image below)
  • Altitude
  • Return numbers


In terms of data, the L1 stores the raw information in .dat format. Once processed through Terra, it is converted into .las format, which is a standard point cloud format.

This raw data is processed alongside all of the RTK and IMU positional data from the L1 to produce an accurate output.

One thing to note is that the raw positional and LiDAR data files do always need to be processed through Terra as laser scanned data is specific to the developer and can not be processed in third-party apps.

DJI has said there is scope for third party apps to become compatible with their initial data processing, so watch this space.

For full report, read our L1-DJI Terra data sets blog.

DJI Terra - Which Drones And Cameras Are Compatible? 

DJI Terra offers seamless connection with your fleet of DJI drones.

Use DJI Terra to plan and execute flights for:

For the Phantom 4 Multispectral, DJI Terra supports NDVI, GNDVI, NDRE, LCI, and OSAVI, but does not have a vegetation index calculator function. Following an update, Terra also supports radiometric correction on the P4 Multispectral.

Use DJI Terra to process data from:

The below image shows a 2D orthomoasic... 



...followed by two images of a 3D model, created trough DJI Terra using the X7 camera.

 

The model's aren't quite as sharp as with the M300 RTK-P1, as the X7 can capture 24MP imagery, compared to the P1's 45MP, but they are still more than adequate.

This also shows just how powerful the P1-M300 RTK combination is for aerial surveyors and drone mapping.    

DJI Terra License Plans

Four license plans are available for DJI Terra - Agriculture, Pro, Electricity, and Cluster. 

Some licences can be used online, while others are for offline.

  • Online Mode: Connect devices to the internet regularly to verify permissions and use paid features.
  • Offline Mode: For users with high requirements for information security, paid features can be used without connecting to the internet.

The following online features are not available in Offline Mode:

  1. Unlocking GEO Zones
  2. Map loading and location searching
  3. Without logging into a DJI account, some flight control functions in DJI Terra will be restricted.

The table below shows the differences between each licence type.

 

Agriculture

(Online Version)

Pro

(Online/ Offline Versions)

Electricity

(Online Version)

Cluster  

(Offline Version)

Real-time 2D mapping Yes Yes Yes Yes
Agricultural application Yes Yes Yes Yes
KML file import Yes Yes Yes
2D Reconstruction (Field) Yes Yes Yes Yes
2D Reconstruction (Urban) Yes Yes Yes
2D Multispectral Reconstruction Yes Yes Yes Yes
Output Coordinate System Yes Yes Yes
ROI Reconstruction Yes Yes Yes
Image POS Import Yes Yes Yes
Multi-GPU Reconstruction Yes Yes Yes
3D Reconstruction Yes Yes Yes
3D Mission Planning Yes Yes Yes
Real-time 3D Mapping Yes Yes Yes
GCPs Yes Yes Yes
LiDAR Point Cloud Accuracy Optimisation Yes Yes Yes
Electricity Application Yes Yes
Detailed Inspection Yes Yes

 

For pricing details, contact Heliguy by calling us or sending us an email.

DJI Terra: New Update (May 2021)

DJI has launched DJI Terra V3.0.0. This updated version features:

  • Cluster Mode, for simultaneous computing of multiple devices to significantly reduce processing time, especially for larger reconstruction tasks.
  • Supports processing LiDAR point cloud collected by Zenmuse L1.

The new version of DJI Terra has also been optimised to increase processing speeds. Optimisation updates are:

  • Increased real-time 3D model processing speed by about 20%;
  • Increased 3D reconstruction processing speed by about 20%;
  • Optimised large-scale data reconstruction experience;
  • Optimised DSM and DOM for 2D reconstruction (DSM reduces the irregular outward expansion of a structure’s borders to make the border appear smoother and less frizzy, while DOM optimises the border area of a structure);
  • Added PLY format and PCD format to 3D point cloud reconstruction results;
  • Current reconstruction tasks can now be viewed in the task library;
  • 3D point cloud reconstruction results can now be displayed according to altitude;
  • Major upgrades to the aerotriangulation reconstruction speed of the non-gimbal camera images;
  • Optimised the reconstruction effect of Zenmuse P1 or other high-resolution images;
  • Optimised the accuracy of RTK-enabled real-time reconstruction models;
  • Modify the upper limit of agricultural application route height setting to 30 metres.

DJI Terra: New Update (December 2020)

A new update for DJI Terra provides the following benefits:

  • Supports offline login.
  • Supports radiometric correction (P4 Multispectral only).
  • Adds a new function where a camera calibration file is generated when reconstruction is complete for photos taken with the Zenmuse P1 camera.

Supporting Offline Login

Terra now supports an offline login feature. Users can use most paid features of Terra without connecting their devices to the internet.

Multispectral Radiometric Correction

Using multispectral data from the DJI P4 Multispectral, users can now generate radiometrically calibrated reflectance maps for remote sensing research or produce vegetation index maps including NDVI and NDRE.

A function has also been added that allows operators to generate a prescriptions map using the levelling variable rate strategy to improve crop yields.

Support For P1 Camera

This new feature generates a camera calibration file when reconstruction is complete for photos taken with the Zenmuse P1 camera.

With the P1, teams can work on real-time mapping missions gathering geographic information using DJI Terra.

Easy Search and Export

Support has been added to separate flight missions from reconstruction missions.

A search function has also been added to the detailed inspection model bank.

Terra now also supports easy exporting to multiple formats after a reconstruction mission is complete.

Increased Maximum Gimbal Pitch

Terra now supports a maximum gimbal pitch from -90° to +30° for waypoint missions and detailed inspection missions, reducing any unwanted jerks in the camera movement.

For full information about the new update, click here.

DJI Terra: New Update (August 2020)

DJI has released a new update for DJI Terra, making it faster and more accurate than ever before.

The upgrade has increased DJI Terra's data processing ability for large-scale reconstruction. In fact, it is now 400% more efficient than before.

Previously, you needed 1GB RAM to process 100 images from the Phantom 4 RTK. But now, Terra can process 400 images from the P4 RTK using the same memory power.

The comparison below gives you an idea of the increased speed of Terra.

  • Before Update: Terra would need 64GB RAM to convert 22,744 images into a high-quality 3D model in four days
  • After Update: Terra needs only 12GB RAM to perform the same task.

The update ensures that Terra can process more data on a single device than most of its competitors today.

New Update - Increased Accuracy

DJI Terra is now also able to produce maps and models with even greater accuracy. Some of the key functions unlocked in the update include:

  • Support for third-party camera or third-party PPK data processing where images are separated from position and orientation system (POS). With the new update, the original POS data can be converted to the coordinates system before data processing to solve the problem of inconsistency in height.
  • Exporting Aerotriangulation results in XML or DJI Terra format to third-party photogrammetry software is now possible. This includes support for applying external parameters to images for distortion correction.
  • 3D model reconstruction now supports the 5-camera oblique system. So, you will be able to plan 5 flight routes to capture the same amount of data as you would have attained using 5 cameras simultaneously on a drone. The routes will correspond to the 5 camera headings – downward, forward, backward, leftward, and rightward.
  • Semantic segmentation and automatic flight route generation have been enabled for 2D field reconstruction. And for those using multispectral sensors, support for generating semantic maps, prescription maps, and flight routes with varied spraying amounts has been added in 2D multispectral reconstruction.
  • Support for SuperMap point cloud reconstruction in S3MB has been added.
  • The Fruit Tree reconstruction scenario now supports manual planning, semi-automated planning, and Terrain Follow Accuracy adjustment.
  • All-new capabilities have been added for energy industry users, focusing specifically on automatic mission planning and 3D reconstruction for powerline inspections.

 

DJI Terra: Features In More Detail

Obtain coordinate information

DJI Terra helps commercial drone pilots quickly plan automated flights with several easy-to-use options based on the area or objects they’d like to capture and the type of map or 3D model they’d like to create.

It features three mission planning types:

  • Waypoint: Create dynamic custom flight paths through an area or around objects using waypoints and adjustable parameters like aircraft altitude, speed, heading, gimbal pitch and angle. For more complex missions that require high attention to detail, the 3D Flight Visualisation feature enables the design and simulation of missions on existing 3D models.
  • Area: Capture a specific area quickly and easily by drawing a custom polygonal flight zone on a map. DJI Terra automatically generates efficient flight path options based on the area selected.
  • Oblique: Capture a rich data set by automatically flying the same route multiple times. Each flight automatically adjusts the angle of the camera to capture new details, giving an extra crisp 3D model of the object or asset from multiple angles.
  • Corridor: Simply draw a line on the map to create automated flight missions around roads and railways. Tailor your flight and tweak the mission settings to change the total area mapped. This provides flexibility to choose between creating high-definition 2D maps and 3D models, or quick overviews. 
  • Detailed Inspection: Detailed inspection mission planning enables automated inspection workflows. Select one or more points in a local 3D model or point cloud to generate waypoints and flight routes. Enhance waypoint selection and flight route planning through a simulated camera view, displayed on screen and including the selected point. 

2D Multispectral Reconstruction

Using multispectral data from P4 Multispectral, generate radiometrically calibrated reflectance maps for remote sensing research and more, or produce vegetation index maps including NDVI and NDRE.

LiDAR Data Processing

Real-time Mapping and Detailed 3D Models

With real-time mapping capabilities, DJI Terra allows drone pilots to quickly generate 2D orthomosaic maps as the drone flies, ideal for time-sensitive missions where situational awareness is critical and decisions need to be made in minutes.

Achieve real-time mapping.

DJI Terra’s fast processing capability also creates sharp and realistic representations of any environment through detailed 2D orthomosaics and 3D model reconstructions used for industrial applications like reconstructing vehicle crashes, tracking progress on construction projects or conducting large-scale critical infrastructure inspections on bridges and roadways.

Easy Data Analysis

In addition to map and model creation, DJI Terra helps users analyse data and generate instant insights with easy-to-use analysis tools that provide a variety of measurements, including linear distance, surface area and volumetric estimations (pictured below).

Carry out a range of measurements, including accessing volume data.

To improve team communication and reporting throughout ongoing projects, annotation labels can be edited and shared.

Make useful annotations which can be used for communication throughout the team. 

For detailed site inspections and accident reconstruction situations, DJI Terra’s photo inspection tool lets users closely examine every photo used to create the model so they can pinpoint and highlight critical elements.

The photo inspection tool.

How Can DJI Terra Help Me?

Here's a look at which industries can benefit from DJI Terra and how it will help them.

  • Public Safety: Achieve rapid turnaround time for gathering on-site critical information.
  • Infrastructure: Easily perform detailed inspections on complex assets and structures.
  • Agriculture: Get an in-depth understanding of your field to help you generate greater yields.
  • Construction: Collect, measure and analyse data with accuracy across projects.
  • Filming: Optimise pre-visualisation to improve planning workflows across your team.
  • Energy: Safely inspect vertical assets and structures, with special optimisations for power lines.

DJI Terra allows you to harness the power of AI-driven mapping solutions to help you take your industrial projects to the next level. Whether it’s object classification, site inspections and more, you can start developing task-specific mapping solutions to seamlessly carry out missions.

Here is a quick guide to making the most of this next-gen mapping tool.

  • Data Acquisition: Define mission objective, plan desired flight plan, and with a tap of a few buttons, autonomously collect critical data so you can achieve the required outcome.
  • Processing Data: Utilise refined image recognition technology to generate 2D and 3D data, resulting in a more realistic representation of your assets, objects, surroundings and more.
  • Data Application: Implement tools and machine learning techniques, which can be used across a variety of different industries – like classification algorithms for identifying trees, objects, and other scenarios.
  • Execution: Take the required action, and enjoy more efficient processes with machine control – be it automated crop spraying, monitoring work sites, transporting materials and more.

DJI Statement

DJI is proud to unveil DJI Terra.

As the leader in the commercial drone industry, DJI continues to develop accessible and easy-to-use hardware and software solutions that help organisations transform their operations with drone technology and gain a competitive advantage in their industries. As an all-in-one mapping and modelling solution, DJI Terra makes it simple and efficient to extract value from drone data, generating conclusions and recommendations across multiple use cases from crash reconstructions to critical infrastructure inspections as well as agriculture field mapping and construction site modelling.



SUNNY LIAO, DIRECTOR OF ENTERPRISE AT DJI

Availability

DJI Terra is available for purchase through authorised DJI Enterprise re-sellers worldwide, including Heliguy. For details, visit the Heliguy website.


1 comment


  • karen brittingham

    This was such an informative article. One of the best I’ve come across. Very thorough!


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