Drone Mapping Training Course for Coastal Management and Seagrass Conservation

Open-access Drone Mapping Course

Citizen Science GIS, University of Central Florida

Course description

This open-access drone mapping training course is designed to use Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), i.e. UAV or drones to collect remote sensing data for coastal mapping and seagrass conservation. We create this training course for research partners and braoder communities to learn how to fly drone , and perform the data processing in Geographical Information Science (GIS) method. This training course contains topics of flying DJI drones, Preflight & Planning, FAA part 107 examination, Drone2map user guide, and GIS based drone image analyses.

Course Objectives

  1. Basic knowledge of Drone, setup and maintenance.
  2. Learn how to fly drone, manual manipulation and auto-pilot.
  3. Learn FAA regulation, sectional chart, and how to take the part 107 exam.
  4. Safety guidlines when flying drone.
  5. Learn to use DJI GS Pro for auto-pilot flying and collecting field data.
  6. In situ measurements guide, collecting field data and Ground Control Points (GCPs).
  7. Use Esri Drone2Map to stitching and geo-referencing the drone images.
  8. Data management and cloud storage of drone imagery
  9. Basic GIS analysis on drone imagery, digitizing, multi-spectral band math, vegetation index and image classification.

1. Drone Basics

Introduction to flying drone

Open training course for drone mapping: (1/5) Drone unboxing and assemble

Open training course for drone mapping: (2/5) How to setup the software for DJI Phantom 4

Register your drone

In the event that the FAA needs to identify a drone in the United States, they will utilize your FAA registration number to seek information. It only takes about 10 minutes to register, and failure to do so can result in extreme repercussions from the FAA.

“Failure to register with the FAA could result in one or a combination of the following: a civil penalty of up to $27,500; a criminal fine of up to $250,000; imprisonment for up to three years.” - FAA

Directions for Registering Drone with FAA:

  1. Go to https://faadronezone.faa.gov/#/
  2. Click “Register” in the same row as “I fly under Part 107 or as a Public Aircraft.”
  3. Enter information and click “Create Account.”
  4. Verify your email address and log in
  5. Make sure that you are in the “Part 107 Dashboard.”
  6. Click “Manage sUAS Inventory.”
  7. Click “Add UAS.”
  8. Fill out the information
  9. Enter your drone’s unique serial number, as found in the battery cavity of the drone:
  10. Go to “Shopping Cart” and click “Checkout.”
  11. Follow prompts for payment
  12. Navigate back to your “FAA Part 107 Dashboard” and click “Manage sUAS Inventory”
  13. Find the drone that you registered and find the “Registration” column.
  14. Mark your drone with the registration number according to the following FAA Parameters:
    • The unique identifier must be maintained in a condition that is legible.
    • The unique identifier must be affixed to the small unmanned aircraft by any means necessary to ensure that it will remain affixed for the duration of each operation.
    • The unique identifier must be legibly displayed on an external surface of the small unmanned aircraft.

2. In-Flight Operation

Drone Manipulation

Open training course for drone mapping: (3/5) Calibrate the drone and setup the software

Air Space Regulation

For more FAA regulation, please read FAA remote pilot study guide

3. Autonomous Mapping

Advance drone flying

Open training course for drone mapping: (4/5) Create drone mapping task using DJI GS Pro

Mapping planning & settings

Participants learned how to plan and create a new flight area using autonomous flights with different mapping parameters. Training covered:

Open training course for drone mapping: (5/5) Unlock fly zone and Using DJI GS Pro for autonomous mapping

4. Image Processing

Drone Image stitching

Processing the drone imagery to mapping products


For points on land, we used obvious objects, such as red buckets that could be easily identified in the drone image. For image referencing over the water, we used light-colored buoys with anchors fixed on the water surface to serve as the Ground Control Point (GCP). Using a Garmin R1 GNSS high-performance handheld GPS, we collected about 10 points for each of the sites. The coordinates of the GCPs are included in the mapping software to geo-register the images. By associating features on the scanned image with real-world x and y coordinates, the software can progressively warp the image so it fits other spatial datasets.

Orthomosaic & Elevation Data

Data analysis in Geographical Information Science (GIS)

UAV/dronehigh-resolution 3D fly-through video for Bodega Marine Laboratory (BML)

5. Post-training Self-study

Self-study for FAA UAS Exam

In order to fly drones under the FAA’s Small UAS Rule (Part 107) in the U.S.A., one must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA (FAA.gov). This certificate demonstrates that the remote pilot understands the regulations, operating requirements, and procedures for safely flying drones.

Self-study for FAA part 107 exam

Above training document reviewed content from the course modules as well as additional material necessary to prepare for the drone examination, including airspace concepts, weather sources, radio communications, sectional charts, and drone physics. It also includes additional online resources and sample questions for the examination.

Data Processing Protocol

Drone imagery and eelgrass mapping principles