Ground Control Points: Time-Intensive & Error Prone

You’re shaping a hillside as part of a corporate campus project and you think your team has done it to spec, but to know for sure, you have to hire a survey crew to verify.

Why verify? Because accuracy matters. If that measurement is off by several meters, laying a foundation in the wrong place will be an expensive problem to fix.

So you have two options. Hire a survey crew, which will take a few hours and a few days of waiting before you get actionable data. Or, hire a drone service provider with whom you start dropping ground control points, also known as GCPs, to quickly and accurately survey the area.

Traditional Survey

And herein lies the biggest problem: GCPs take time to lay down and and set up. And if they’re set up incorrectly, it can introduce expensive errors in your data. Not to mention wasted time re-surveying and re-processing your photos.

To make matters worse, if you’re flying an active construction site repeatedly, these GCPs can be moved, covered by debris, rolled over by trucks, or even accidentally thrown away.

If any of this happens, the GCPs will have to be laid down and surveyed again. Hiring a survey team to do a quick check of your work on that hillside every time you do a weekly flight isn’t sustainable, especially for construction sites that cover large geographic areas.


Turning Point: How It All Started

We saw the intensity of this problem at scale when we started working with Komatsu in 2014. Initially they were using our first generation drones with GCPs to feed their automated vehicles with high precision data that allowed them to navigate correctly in the field and to work in the right elevation value and with the right dimensions.

We were using GCPs with Komatsu for about a year. They had very big construction sites so they had to lay down at least 10-20 GCPs every time before every flight. It was extremely labor intensive – you need to lay them down, survey, maintain, and clean them before every survey flight.

The Skycatch Viewer


As you may know, construction sites aren’t neat and tidy endeavors. We had to make sure that our GCPs weren’t accidentally run over or thrown away. So it took additional hours to make sure that people weren’t parking bulldozers by them, that we maintained a line of sight between them and the sky, and that we cleaned them each time.

It was taking hundreds of hours every month to lay down and maintain GCPs times the number of projects that we were managing, which eventually became too painful to manage.

We needed to create a solution that didn’t require people to go out and plant GCPs all over large construction sites. This is what led to the creation of our Skycatch High Precision RTK drone. 

The Skycatch EVO3x

The Future: GCP-Free Drone Surveying with Skycatch

Imagine a world where you can survey large construction areas without GCPs. We have begun to make that world possible.

Through a tightly integrated hardware and software system, our drone is able to survey construction sites with highly precise data-capture and without GCPs.

Our RTK technology results in the equivalent of having a GCP for every single photo, without having to deal with survey crews, lay down real GCPs, and the corresponding headaches.

It’s pretty incredible. Now, all Komatsu has to do is outline the area they need to fly on the Skycatch EVO3x tablet flight app, and the drone takes off, flies, and lands completely autonomously. With a 20 minute flight and a few hours of cloud processing, you can have a globally geo-referenced high accuracy map where every point is within 5cm of ground truth.

The High Precision Package

This saves Komatsu time and money and gives them an unprecedented accurate view of their site in a way that was never before possible. And the best part? No survey crews, no GCPs!

We refined the development of this drone and its capabilities combined with data processing on the field with Komatsu and several other leading construction companies including Stantec, Aecom, DPR, and Bechtel before refining what is now our field-tested Skycatch High Precision Package.

The Skycatch RTK Drone is superior for absolute accuracy, and renders GCPs and the entire system of placing them, checking them, and re-placing them obsolete.

Are you ready to save time and money on your construction projects? Learn how Skycatch HPP can transform your business.