Creating 3D and 2D Maps Using Drone-based Aerial Photogrammetry

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Creating 3D and 2D Maps Using Drone-based Aerial Photogrammetry

A popular commercial drone use-case is aerial photogrammetry. Aerial photogrammetry creates 2D or 3D models from sets of aerial photographs. Drones are the perfect for collecting the required aerial photographs because of their simplicity and low operational costs. This has made traditional photogrammetric platforms (manned planes) that are still carrying heavy, sophisticated, expensive, and accurate sensors cumbersome and expensive. In turn, new drone operator employment opportunities are being created as drones disrupt the aerial photogrammetry industry.

The combination of light (photo), drawings (gram) and measurements (metry) are known as photogrammetry. Until recently, photogrammetry was a very specific niche within the geospatial industry: a rather complex subject, accessible only to specialized professionals. However, this field is becoming more and more broadly accessible. Photogrammetry has become a field in which, despite the need for some initial training and effort to understand the basics, there are many useful applications such as creating 3D maps using aerial images.

To put it simply, aerial photogrammetry is the act of mounting a camera on an aerial vehicle and taking multiple photos of the ground as it flies. The resulting visuals are then processed in a powerful computer using specialized software that creates a survey-grade output that is georeferenced and scaled. This allows us to make measurements from photographs, giving photographers the chance to pinpoint exact positions of surface points. With the advent and continuous evolution of computer imaging, the process of photogrammetry is becoming easier and easier.

With UAVs, everyday cameras, and new software available, the analog (line of sight) geometry is now obsolete. By analyzing almost every pixel in the images, and comparing highly overlapping sets of images, software packages are able to compute back to the 3rd dimension, in the same way the human brain gets a sense of depth from the two eyes.

So You Want to Create Maps Using Drones?

Are you interested in aerial photography or aerial photogrammetry? Drone Universities can teach you the skills you’ll need to get ahead in these fast growing fields. We’ve been training commercial drone operators for over two years and our core team has over 150 years of combined aviation/drone industry experience. Let us train you for FAA Part 107.

By |2017-08-31T15:23:33+00:00April 20th, 2017|Aerial Photogrammetry, Aerial Photography/Videography, Drone GIS, Drones|Comments Off on Creating 3D and 2D Maps Using Drone-based Aerial Photogrammetry

About the Author:

Sam Estrin
I'm an avid drone enthusiast and part-time drone blogger living outside of the DC area. I track drone news and write editorials and timely drone news stories that I find interesting. If you like my stories, you can follow me on Twitter or visit me at LinkedIn. If you'd like me to write for your drone oriented publication or blog, you can contact me at