Great demo of drone mapping using Mapbox and Pix4D with a 3D Robotics Aero

From the Mapbox blog. The images below are all animated GIFs, but you'll need to click on them for them to play.

Piecing together the imagery

The first step in creating a sharable map is stitching the images into one single image. Software like PhotoScan and Pix4D make this really easy for you. Here we are going to use Pix4d. Simply import images, select GeoTIFF as output option and let it run.

Rendering and uploading the map

After Pix4D has completed processing the imagery, import the resulting GeoTiff into TileMill, our open source map design studio. In TileMill follow these steps to make sure your imagery looks great:

  • To remove the black border from around the imagery, set nodata=0. Usually this value is 0 but the value can vary and can be checked in QGIS
  • Increase the raster -mesh-size. This will make sure reprojection artifacts do not appear
  • Set map-background:transparent. This will make the map look better when overlayed on other imagery
  • Set raster-scaling:lanczos;. This will ensure your imagery is nice and clear. It will also increase your processing time, but it’s worth it.

Once all TileMill parameters are set, upload the imagery to by clicking Export —> Upload.

Final Result on top of Mapbox Satellite once uploaded to and styled with mapbox.js.

Sharing the map

Once uploaded to, you can optionally combine the imagery with Mapbox StreetsMapbox Satellite or any other layer you have uploaded previously. From there it is easy to share the map either by its URL or as a Youtube-like embed code. To extend the map further use mapbox.js. For instance, the example above is a simple time line built with mapbox.js.

If you have any questions around creating maps from drone imagery or if you would like to share results of your recent flights, hit me up on Twitter @bobws.

Views: 9472

Comment by Gary McCray on April 7, 2014 at 9:21pm

Hi all, the above Blog and links can now be found on our 3D mapping page along with some other great new stuff.

Best Regards, Gary

Comment by AKRCGUY on April 13, 2014 at 3:35pm

Anyone have a link to aerial footage of the new 3DR Aero?

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on April 13, 2014 at 4:41pm

There are videos and stills on the 3DR Google Plus page.

Comment by Chet on April 17, 2014 at 8:32pm

too bad 3D robotics does not support this use of their products here is the reply I got when I enquired about using a downward facing camera:

We're sorry for any inconvenience.

I am investigating your case. I was not able to find any previous emails to your purchase to verify the functionality nor compatibility of what you are trying to do, with the plane, so we could have provided you the required information to better assist you. Since the orders can only be processed after agreeing to the terms and conditions of our company, that is why our agent Nathaly shared them with you.

We do not support nor recommend to attach the camera downwards the plane, because it has a wooden plate inside of the foam base to stabilize the weight of the Aero. 
Actually Aero has a specific place on the tip of the nose that was specially designed for the FPV camera to be installed. Please find attached a few pictures showing the specifications previously mentioned.

If further questions please let me know.

Have a great evening!

Customer Support Supervisor
3D Robotics

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on April 17, 2014 at 8:38pm

Chet: The mapping version of the 3DR Aero is coming out in a month or two (that's the one in the videos). The current version is designed for more generic UAV use. 

Comment by Antonius Lourenço Kasbergen on April 17, 2014 at 9:42pm

Here is the video, UAV + 200 pictures + Agisoft Pro + Exported FBX + Unreal Engine 4 then Oculus Rift inside the mine. The results are pretty impressive! 

Comment by MarioSpeedwagon on July 10, 2015 at 8:01pm

If mapbox were a squirrel running across the road, I'd swerve to hit it.

I deleted the shortcut and replaced it with MSpaint 10 minutes ago. 

Comment by Julien on June 24, 2016 at 7:43am

Hi there!

I'm a user of pix4D, creating maps and 3d models. I own an Ebee (sensefly) and 3 mapping multirotors, from small 560 to big octo 800. I need now to use my own map made with an ebee/Pix4D in tower app, to have the benefit of the cm accuracy i produced, and be more safe with multirotor flights between buildings. I can upload my map in mapbox, but i don't manage to have it on my tablet...   Is there a way to have my own map on tower ( offline, of course...)


Julien   Corvus-monitoring


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