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  • Writer's pictureNafasi Za Angani South Africa

Creating 3D Models with Drones

In practice, there are quite a few ways to make 3D models. They can be created from pictures, but those are rather limiting. Most are created from geometry. There are some complex algorithms that can be used to determine the shapes, others allow you to manipulate them, and yet others display them to the screen or send them to the printer. It is all an illusion that can be created with mathematics. Additionally, you can create 3D models by hand with the assistance of 3D modelling software, or by scanning a physical object. This is where drones come in- drones are versatile tools that can be used for a wide variety of applications- including the creation of 3D models.

Drones are considered airborne scanners and can be used to scan anything from buildings and constructions sites to large land areas and structures such as bridges. These captured images are then processed with special software programs that can turn aerial images into digital spatial models, thus creating 3D models. This is achieved through the utilisation of a process called Photogrammetry/ Aerial Photogrammetry.

So, What Is Photogrammetry?

Photographic images are the most user friendly/ efficient way to share/ circulate data, and they also have practical applications is various industries. However, without the use of photogrammetry, their accuracy is easily questionable, and they cannot be relied on for tasks such as surveying jobs. Photogrammetry is the science of taking multiple images of a feature/ object and using them to produce a digitalised high resolution 2D or 3D models- from which accurate measurements can be deduced.

Photogrammetry explores images of a subject captured from one or two locations and uses the perspectives and location data to triangulate the location of points on the image. The more images captured of the subject from varying locations, the more accurate the triangulation process. The outcome is accurate point locations plotted in 3D space, which are required to create a 3D model.

How To Generate Great Results When Creating 3D Models:

Two things are required to get great results when creating a 3D model with a drone:

- Ensure that there is a 60- 70% overlap in the aerial images captured. This will assist in making the triangulation process more accurate and track the same points between images; and

- Capture images of the subject at different angles and altitudes. Doing this assists with creating a higher quality 3D model.

How Industries Are Using 3D Models In Their Day-To-Day Operations:

a. Construction firms can monitor the progress of their construction firms.

b. Land Surveying industries can easily access an up-to-date view of landscapes and create detailed models and true Orthomosaics.

c. Inspection firms can safely inspect previously unseen angles of properties and equipment more safely and efficiently.

d. Energy Firms make use of drones to and 3D technology to create ease in inspecting large equipment.

e. Agriculture does not really make use of drones, but farmers are able to leverage data from drones to create orthomosaic maps of their fields.

f. Public Safety institutions can use 3D models to document/ recreate crime scenes and record evidence.

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