Plowman Craven Launches Vogel R3D Rail Survey System

Plowman Craven, a UK survey and measurement company, has launched the Vogel R3D system that deploys unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to enable the comprehensive surveying of rail infrastructure to an incredible sub-5mm accuracy.

Able to cover even the busiest and most inaccessible areas of the rail network from a working height of 25m, Vogel R3D can capture track condition and measurement data from a position of safety even during traffic hours, removing the need for possessions and line blocks, and drastically reducing the exposure of workers to risk. The result is a shortening of programme times and significant cost savings.



Chris Preston, Senior Engineer, Network Rail commented: “The application of the Vogel R3D system is a real game-changer for Network Rail and helps us to satisfy many of our survey requirements in a safe manner without the cost implications or potential programme delays associated with multiple possessions.”

Malcolm Donald, Director, Plowman Craven said: “The Vogel R3D system really does represent a step change in the surveying of the rail environment. Not only does it massively reduce risk, cost and timeframes compared to traditional surveying methods, but the data accuracy is also superior to traditional laser-scanning systems, making Vogel R3D a very attractive proposition with a wide range of applications. It can also be deployed on any infrastructure project that requires remotely-captured, engineering-grade data such as bridges or oil rigs.”


  • Less Risk – removes the need to physically access the track
  • Less Cost – reduces the expense of possessions and line blocks
  • Less Time – shortens programmes as data capture is significantly faster
  • More Speed – rapid mobilisation means no waiting for next available possession
  • More Value – high definition photography supplements current survey deliverables
  • More Accuracy – proven to deliver sub-5mm accuracy


  • Track alignments for P-way design
  • Topographical surveys
  • 3D point clouds
  • Building Information Models
  • Orthophotos
  • High-resolution imagery for asset inspection
  • Site visualisations & TruView

Developed from Plowman Craven’s years of expertise in laser scanning and photogrammetry, and underpinned by our robust survey principles, this ground-breaking system uses a state-of-the-art UAV platform and 100-megapixel camera to capture overlapping aerial images of an entire site.


Bespoke workflows and software algorithms are then used to convert the imagery into 3D point cloud data that can be used to create a range of client deliverables ranging from track alignment to interactive site visualisations. Boasting an accuracy that is superior to any other method of data capture, including even static laser scanning and train or trolley-based kinematic scanning systems, the Vogel R3D has been successfully trialled by Network Rail, with the survey accuracy results approved.


Extensive testing has confirmed that Vogel R3D meets Network Rail’s Band 1 survey accuracy requirements of +/-5mm and is suitable for track alignment and topographical survey at all GRIP stages.

Website Plowman Craven




Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Related posts

Scroll to Top