The following is a guest post by Bobby Ouyang, CEO of SkyeBrowse. SkyeBrowse is an innovative software that enables 3D modeling through videogrammetry. DRONELIFE neither accepts nor offers payments for guest posts.
The concept of aerial 3D modeling has been around for centuries, dating back to Leonardo da Vinci and beyond. It has been used for surveying battlefields, building cities, astronomical exploration, and everything in between. Certainly, the world has made huge technological strides in drone technology, how 3D models are produced, and how they can be used. So, what’s next?
More recently, photogrammetry (a term originally coined in 1867) has been used to create 3D models through various software that process images captured from drones. This approach became a game-changer, as it took the old practice of manual photography and automated it with data acquisition and the increasing computing power of modern times. In short, a supercomputer would process hundreds or even thousands of pictures and merge the available data to produce a 3D model.
While photogrammetry-based software expanded the use of 3D modeling throughout many industries, it is complex and painstaking, and therefore its use has been relatively limited. This method of 3D modeling is time-consuming – both in gathering the data and in processing it. Capturing hundreds of individual photos can take hours and requires extensive training in the software. The flight is time-consuming and prone to increased risk as the drone has to slow down to take hundreds or thousands of individual photos. The pilot may also need to manually make adjustments dealing with percent overlap, ground sample distance, and photo resolution. This means that if a road accident is being captured, the scene may not be cleared for hours until proper 3D modeling photos are taken. Further, still photographs provide limited data and must be processed one by one. This can take days.
There is, however, a new alternative. Born from a series of research projects at Rutgers University, videogrammetry 3D modeling has become available to everyone in the form of software which allows anyone to make 3D models using their smartphones in just a couple of minutes.
Videogrammetry is the process of creating 3D models using videos instead of pictures. The advantages are numerous: to begin with, videos provide much more data than photos. The video frames, which are naturally shot in sequence, provide much more usable data than still photographs taken individually. From a recording perspective, the entire process is much faster because the drone flies at maximum speed to record video, saving time in capturing the scene and making the most of the drone’s battery life.
Additionally, the processing of the 3D model only takes a few minutes, and the results actually appear more clearly than photogrammetry-based models. Video-based 3D models do not display melting edges: the mixing of the edges of two objects, such as the base of a building and the ground it stands on, which is commonly seen in photogrammetry-based models. Thanks to the higher amount of data available in videos, this problem is easily avoided in videogrammetry.
Videogrammetry is a relatively new technology that is changing the landscape of the drone industry, just like photogrammetry did years ago. This means that the evidence in a car crash can now be captured in just a couple of minutes so the scene can be cleared off. It means that it takes less time, effort, and risk for roof inspectors to do their jobs by just flying their drone above the site, getting a model, and moving on. It means that a construction site can be captured within minutes without halting any activity on the site. Reduced traffic jams, decreased time spent by police officers gathering evidence, and increased productivity in commercial operations are just several of the immediate benefits of videogrammetry. These low adoption barriers will help the technology grow rapidly across many more industries.
The speed, convenience, and simplicity of videogrammetry also mean that the technology is more affordable compared to photogrammetry, making 3D modeling available for all. Today, anybody can make 3D models in just a few minutes with their smartphones; it no longer requires extensive training, time, or resources to process it. Anybody who wishes to harness the true power of 3D modeling can now do it in just a few minutes with videogrammetry software like SkyeBrowse.
Bobby Ouyang, CEO, SkyeBrowse
Bobby is an international speaker, published author, and inventor. He has done software development and research on the Air-Traffic Incident Management System (Air-TIMS) funded by U.S. Department of Transportation back in 2016. This research led to the invention of SkyeBrowse’s autonomous drone flight, video-based 3D modeling, and tap-fly simplicity. Bobby co-authored the patent proposal for SkyeBrowse’s accident site reconstruction platform. He also trains law enforcement in various training workshops on best practices of flying drones. With his work on SkyeBrowse, Bobby has introduced the 2 tap simplicity of making a 3D model throughout the world.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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