The power of offline processing: Why desktop is essential for drone mapping...

The power of offline processing: Why desktop is essential for drone mapping in agriculture


This is a 3-part series

Part 1: How quickly can you go from landing to processing?

If you want an NDVI map while you’re still in the field, cut out a potentially long upload to the cloud and start processing directly in Pix4Dag desktop

With a predicted population jump to 9 billion by 2050, and therefore a corresponding 70% increase in agricultural consumption, it’s clear the industry must innovate to keep up. And so, agriculture drones are on the rise. PwC estimates the revenue opportunity of drone-powered solutions in agriculture to be 32.4 billion USD.

Part of this opportunity is being exploited by up-and-coming cloud-based companies. Users upload their images to the cloud, and receive maps in return. With so many of these services being cloud-based only, desktop processing of drone images may seem old-fashioned. “Why have a computer at all, when you can simply upload on your phone?”

Hold on, what about the upload speed…is cloud processing really optimal for ag?

Based on feedback from some of our users in rural areas (and agriculture tends to be in those areas), uploading a small dataset to the cloud can take 3–4 hours, while when they process directly on their laptops, an NDVI map is ready in less than 45’.

So, if uploading to the cloud takes this long, and one of the basic requests we hear from the agricultural industry is that people want to make decisions in the field, the solution is to process offline where images are ready to process right away.

The illustration below shows two examples of import time in desktop. As you can see, this time is negligible, we could even say “instant”.

By not uploading your data to the cloud, and simply importing images from the SD card to your computer, you’re able to start processing right away. No unnecessary time-consuming steps in between: you can have your NDVI map for immediate scouting.

This is why Pix4Dag offers a hybrid desktop and cloud solution: desktop works great in agriculture because it makes users internet independent and allows them to truly process while still in the field, and cloud works well for those whose Ag operations live online.

Many rural areas have problems with cell phone connection, not to mention internet bandwidth: not ideal, considering datasets in agriculture actually are more likely to be large (vs other industries). If you don’t have a pristine connection, we’re talking hours to upload time-sensitive data to the cloud.

If what you really want is to have actionable data while you are still in the field, processing directly on your laptop after the drone lands is the way to go.

For the next part in this series, we’ll touch on actual processing time for generating NDVI maps in the field, as well as processing capabilities. Stay tuned…

Backed with over ten years of scientific research, Pix4D is the industry leader in professional drone mapping software. The dynamic and rapidly expanding company is based in Switzerland, with offices in San Francisco and Shanghai.