Skyward Mapping & Modeling, powered by Pix4D, has gotten off to a great start. We initially announced a powerful set of 3D modeling and 2D mapping features, including area and elevation measurements. Then we added volume measurements to bring even more value to companies that need to calculate cut and fill quantities.

Now, we’re excited to announce another capability for our mapping and modeling solution: automatic ground control point (GCP) detection. Now you can improve the absolute accuracy of your 2D and 3D digital representations relative to their location in the real world. This promotes detailed planning and quality assurance for your data deliverables. And with the power of Pix4D integrated within Skyward, you can add GCP information to your dataset without leaving the Skyward platform.

Let’s take a deeper dive and see how it works.

What are ground control points (GCPs)?

Most experienced drone mappers and surveyors will already be familiar with ground control points. For those that don’t know, ground control points are physical targets laid out on the ground during a drone survey. Using traditional surveying equipment, a worker documents the exact location of the center of the GCP target in the real world.

Ground Control Point GCP Target Image

Several of these targets are strategically laid throughout the area to be surveyed. The drone then flies a survey mission of the area. As the drone captures overlapping images of the area, the ground control point targets are included.

After the mission is complete, the survey dataset is uploaded to a photogrammetry engine like Pix4D. As part of the project creation process, the user will have the option to upload the surveyed location data as a CSV file. While the engine processes the drone data into maps and models, it will integrate the GCP data, anchoring the map to precise location data for a more authentic representation of its precise real-world location.

How do GCPs work in Skyward Mapping & Modeling, powered by Pix4D?

First of all, you’ll need to capture a dataset which includes GCPs. To be automatically detected by Skyward Mapping & Modeling, the GCP targets will need to be square, diagonal, or Propeller Aeropoints.

Ground Control Point Types

Next, create a Project in Skyward. When selecting your processing type, click “Add GCPs.” 

Add GCPs in Skyward Mapping & Modeling

Then upload a CSV file containing your GCP data. Skyward provides a specific file format, and you can download a sample CSV file containing the supported format.

Next, you’ll need to follow the given directions to identify the coordinate system you’re using. This will involve visiting, downloading a projection file, and uploading the .prj file to your Skyward project.

After uploading these files, you can review the GCP information. If necessary, you can swap Easting and Northing coordinates, or return one step and select a new GCP file.

Review GCPs in Skyward Mapping & Modeling

Once all your GCP data is imported, click “Upload & Process.” As your data is processed into the desired deliverables, Skyward Mapping & Modeling, powered by Pix4D, will automatically detect the GCPs and apply the data you’ve uploaded.

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