Network Rail and WSP use Sensat to gather data 90x quicker

Kirsten Ingeneeger

May 5, 2019

In collaboration with:

To support early-stage design, Network Rail and WSP needed highly accurate survey data of a large complicated area composed of rail, road, greenfield and urban areas. 


For this project, a traditional topographic survey was expected to take a painful 5 months to complete. It would involve a 12-week track access approval period, 4 weeks to capture the data and a further 4 weeks for processing.

90% faster

A traditional topographical survey would have taken up to five months. Sensat captured, processed and quality assured the data in 10 days.

70% cheaper

WSP saw cost savings of up to 70% over using a traditional survey method such as a total station or laser scanner.

The solution

Utilising UAVs, Sensat quickly captured the 16.4km2 area site in 48 hours. Sensat’s expert UAV capabilities and close relationship with the CAA removed the need for Network Rail track access approval. This meant the data was seamlessly captured, processed and quality assured in just 10 days. On top of this, WSP saw cost savings of up to 70% over using a more traditional survey method such as a total station or laser scanner.

The visualisations created from the UAV survey included a high-density point cloud, DTM, orthomosaic, and 3D mesh. This was above and beyond the client’s initial objectives for the survey. The data can be integrated with CAD and BIM to provide an incredibly detailed, versatile and collaborative digital environment in Sensat’s visualisation platform, Mapp. Mapp also enabled the train mounted LiDAR data to be layered into digital twin which had proven accuracy of 1-3mm, perfect for detailed design.

16 km² point cloud hosted on Mapp


The project’s success shows how important it is for the rail industry to adopt new technology when solving problems. By utilising Sensat’s specialist UAV capabilities, National Rail along with WSP were able to expedite data capture for early-stage design at a fraction of the cost.

Want to learn more about how to innovate during a project's design phase? 

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