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Urban Surveys: Unmanned Helicopters & Drones

Unmanned aircraft, primarily helicopters capable of High Quality Digital Photography and HD Video are a low cost method to carry out rapid aerial surveys. Using remote control devices it is possible to fly through narrow areas such as city streets or natural obstructions at low or high altitudes. We are looking into this as at the moment due to our work on motion tracking in After Effects to label features in the urban realm (more details in a future post)

The clip below details New York captured using one of the drones:

New York City Aerial 1 - HD from David Quinones on Vimeo.

Take a look at for full details, over the coming years unmanned drones are going to become a major part of monitoring, planning and surveying the city as costs are coming down to a pro-consumer level. As we mentioned in a previous post, the copyright issues associated with using other peoples data is often a nightmare, as such it is sometimes preferable to map/survey an area yourself.

This is where the Microdrone comes in handy - an unmanned aerial vehicle equipped with a digital camera and a GPS it provides an easy route for gathering data.

Of note in the specifications is the units ability to gather stereo data, allowing essentially a 3D model to be constructed from the flightpath. This combined with oblique imagery from the same flight opens up the prospect of texture mapped models of small areas.

The movie below shows the Microdrone in action:

The clip is slightly creepy to be honest with the unit peering into windows and spying on women on beach towels - the Microdrone also resembles the surveillance units in Half Life 2 featured in our movie below on the Architecture of City 17:

City 17 Architecture from digitalurban on Vimeo.

Bringing it back to geography and urban models, the movies would also be of use for camera matching allowing a local context for 3D models. In short we want one - sadly we cant afford a unit with prices coming in at 25,000 Euro.

You can buy one and find out more details from OrbitGIS.

1 comment:

  1. if 25k € is too much for you take a look at blimp photography. here is a nice selection: