3D Scan That Building - With A Drone

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We’re looking at a project that makes 3D scans of large objects a lot easier - by using drones. 

Readers may be familiar with the easy-to-use Autodesk 123D Catch application. It uses photogrammetry to convert a series of 2D images into a 3D mesh suitable for modeling or 3D printing. It can even be installed on your mobile phone for instant 3D scanning where ever you happen to be. 

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However, 123D Catch veterans will tell you it is often very difficult to capture large objects like buildings or landscapes because it is sometimes impossible or difficult to physically walk around the subject. Often there are obstructions preventing ground-based observers from capturing good images. 

Mark Loane of Jersey, Channel Islands seems to have proven a solution: use drones. He equipped his Phantom 2 DJI drone with a camera and simply orbits the subject taking a series of high-res images. The images were uploaded to 123D Catch for cloud processing into a mesh, as you can see in the video above. 

So far several buildings on Jersey have been captured and Loane is working with Jersey Heritage to capture many more. 

The results are terrific and should be doable by anyone owning a drone equipped with a decent camera. In fact, any large object can be captured in this way: a large ship or airplane would work just as well as a building. If you see a drone buzzing around your building, you now know what might be taking place. Smile!

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