How Much Does Drone Mapping Cost?

In doing research for this article, one thing became clear: mapping drone services do not have an ounce of consistency. Unlike other services, drone mapping is so new and uncharted that most everyone who offers it is doing something a little different. This makes determining the average cost of the service a rather difficult thing to do. First, let’s look at the various ways people determine their prices.

The Pricing Methods for Mapping Drones

Project Basis

Mapping drones are rarely charged out on a per-project basis, but it is not unheard of within the industry. Defining the project’s scope is often difficult, however, and this pricing method can lead to undercharging if things don’t go as planned. 

Hourly Rate

Many mapping drone providers will charge an hourly rate that covers the cost of their time, equipment and services. This can be an effective way to demonstrate the true value of a pilot’s work, but it can be difficult to convince the customer that the time taken is necessary.

Acre Rate

Those using mapping drones in the agriculture industry have been known to charge an acre rate. This assigns a value to all work completed in a specific area and often includes discounts for larger locations since the setup time is not as onerous. While this method can be effective in the right application, it is not a solution for mapping activities that occur at multiple separate locations. 

Additional Considerations for Mapping Drone Pricing

The pricing systems described above show the wide swath of ways that drone companies can charge for their services, but it is not illustrative of the full cost of mapping drones. That is because most projects will involve at least some of the additional factors described below. 

Extra Services

It is one thing to charge for a 3D scan of an area. It is another to offer high-resolution photos or an orthomosaic map. The potential for drone services to include one or more of these services is quite high, and quoting for each of them separately should be considered. Although it is common to view these as separate services, you may also want to think about creating packages. This can help ensure that both you and your client are on the same page about what to expect. This brings us too…

Added Deliverables

Keep in mind that commercial drone services, drone mapping and other services are all relatively new. This means that many of the clients who come looking for service providers don’t really know what they are asking for, which can lead to a lot of confusion and miscommunication. As a result, it is not uncommon for one thing to be delivered and another thing to be requested. Added costs are usually incurred in these situations. 

Project Difficulties

Drone services are not always straightforward and easy to carry out either. Bad weather conditions, part servicing, software troubleshooting and other delays can add hours and days to the project schedule, leading to delays further down the road.In conclusion, the pricing models for mapping drones at this time are hard to determine. It is often better to speak with a company in your area that offers the services than it is to assume what their pricing model may be. Consider contacting companies like for more information.