Ordnance Survey plans to use drones, fitted with high resolution cameras, to improve the accuracy of its mapping. Once it has completed its aerial surveys, this updated mapping will be made available to commercial customers.
Ordnance Survey believes using drones will be more straight-forward and accurate than its current system. At the moment, Ordnance Survey uses planes, in conjunction with surveyors on the ground, and combines that data with information from the Land Registry and Local Authorities. The mapping data retrieved from the plans is, unfortunately, not as high resolution as the data it will be able to obtain from drones.
There are no comments so far as to whether the new mapping data will be fed back into Land Registry services, such as MapSearch, which rely on Ordnance Survey polygon data. If they do, it will be interesting to see how HM Land Registry reconciles the inaccuracies between the way sites are mapped 'on the ground' (from the air) and HM Land Registry title plan boundaries.
Let's hope Ordnance Survey remembers to avoid sending their drones too close to airports ...
Ordnance Survey told the BBC that the existing mapping satellites orbiting the Earth cannot provide enough high resolution detail for its maps. Its Astigan drone is a high-altitude pseudo satellite. Rather than circling the planet, it will be controlled from the ground and sent to map large areas of interest. "Our current mapping capabilities are driven by two efforts," explained Neil Ackroyd, acting chief executive of Ordnance Survey. "One is using fixed-wing aircraft to take photos for our revision programme. Then we have our field surveyors on the ground, supported by data from local authorities and the land registry. "What the Astigan project does is gives us the capability of using aircraft, but quicker and at significantly lower cost." The cameras the Astigan craft will carry will be similar to those on mapping aircraft.