3D visualisation with drones

Initial situation

In many areas, traditional inspection of infrastructures or visualisation of landscapes and structures is problematic for planning processes. For example, workers are exposed to high health risks when manually inspecting electricity pylons. Surveying and inspecting complex infrastructures such as refineries is a very difficult and tedious task, requiring workers to navigate through complicated mazes of pipes, ladders and other structures using ground-based or portable scanners. Traditional methods of 3D scanning used to inspect and monitor structures are very time-consuming, requiring mobile stations to be set up and moved to other positions once scanning is complete. This not only requires a lot of manpower, but also leads to higher costs. 

In addition, when working on projects involving old buildings, original plans and data are poorly documented or do not exist. This usually takes workers in the construction industry two working days per week. The time - consuming research for project information with non-existent or incomplete plans could be avoided that way. Because of this, the manpower and technical requirements of these traditional inspection and visualisation procedures are difficult and come at a very high cost. For example, on-site inspections cost $200 per hour. This is also the case for traditional and manual gathering of information in fields of agriculture, where it is common to hire many different helpers and this results in an increase of errors by humans.

Our solution

One solution to the problems described is 3D visualisation, which is already used in many different areas. Among other things, 3D visualisations bring added value to the presentation of projects, as they give the projects a realistic image. 

They are also very popular in business matters, as the sale and marketing of real estate can be easily illustrated through point clouds, 3D models and textures. For example, 3D visualisations of residential and commercial properties are used to give potential buyers a feeling for living in their future estates. 3D models show the location, illustrate the advantages of the properties and can thus also highlight local features.

3D visualisations also form an important basis for today's planning and inspection processes for lines and poles. For example, 3D visualisation enables the safe observation of digitised power lines, radio masts and antennas in the office without exposing employees to danger. These need to be inspected at regular intervals due to weathering, vandalism or wear and tear. 3D visualisations facilitate these processes and help to detect anomalies or potential problems at an early stage. 

Furthermore, 3D visualisations are significantly useful in the fields of landscape and urban architecture and road constructions. On the one hand, 3D visualisations of real buildings are used as a basis for planning renovations, redesigns and monument protection. On the other hand, they are also used for digital documentation and tracking of construction progress or for monitoring facilities and structures. In the field of urban and transport planning, 3D visualisations are used to implement measures to improve the urban climate, energy efficiency, public safety and tourism. In tourism, for example, they are used to plan tours. 3D visualisation also enables all kinds of emergency planning, like for example after natural disasters or before upcoming blastings of buildings.

Why using drones for 3D visualisation?

Drones are increasingly used for 3D visualisations nowadays because they offer many advantages over conventional methods. In order to get a highly realistic and detailed visualisation a high amount of images from all different angles is required. For this purpose, aerial photography with drones is ideal, as drones can be operated quickly and without risk. Specific places,that cannot be reached easily by humans can be covered by drones. In addition, aerial images taken by drones represent the current state of the environment, so the 3D visualisations created from them are also accurate in time. Drones can be used to capture large amounts of data in a very short time, which is a cost-effective process and reduces labour costs. The flexible use of drones to capture aerial imagery can help avoid gaps in data sets and can also be used to predict events through surveillance using 3D visualisation.

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