A colleague of mine just returned from overseas where he flew a UAV as part of an independent exploratory project. He did so with permission and also engaged directly with local communities in the process—as per the guidelines listed in theHumanitarian UAV Code of Conduct. He subsequently sent me this aerial video footage of a camp, which he recorded using a DJI Phantom 2 Vision+.

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 5.21.38 PM

The analysis of aerial imagery for humanitarian & development purposes is an active area of research at 
UAViators. He thus kindly gave me permission to share this footage with colleague Matt Shroyer so that we could explore the possibility of creating a mosaic and 3D model from the video. Incidentally, the image below is the highest resolution and most recent satellite image available of the camp on Google Maps. As you can tell, the satellite image is very much out of date.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 10.56.08 AM

And here is the mosaic, which Matt kindly produced by taking hundreds of screenshots of the aerial video footage (click to enlarge):

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 11.00.01 AM

A close up:

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 11.02.13 AM

We then explored the possibility of creating a 3D model of the camp using the screenshots and SketchFab. The results are displayed below (click to enlarge). The numbers are annotations we added to provide relevant information on the camp. Perhaps in the future we’ll be able to add photographs & videos (captured from hand-held cameras) and other types of data to the 3D model.

Click here to view the 3D model, fly-throughs, and more. 

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  • 100KM

    I read an FAA COA for a drone used for aerial photography   The FAA asserted that there is much less risk to life and property using a drone compared to a manned aircraft.      This is certainly the case.    Using manned aircraft for aerial photography has a significantly higher risk, they are filled with fuel and weigh much more.


  • @Scott
    Everything you said is right I just don't see the good cause of this...
  • I certainty don't have an agenda and believe me I'm not out of context at all since I live in a country that receives most of these poor people. My point is that theese people need food water shelter and medicine not someone flying over them with a drone to film and show off the camp they just made for them risking their we'll being in the process ...
  • Admin


    Accurate and certainly valid observations.


    TCIII Admin

  • Man, look at some of the research projects people come here and post about.. 
    The people flying drones over the entire city of Austin, mapping the IoT, for example. 
    People are flying drones over other people and their property ALL THE TIME!!!!!!

     It seems everyone is VERY mixed up in their opinion of drones and what is acceptable.

    I can assure you that MOST people buying drones are not in to them, the way people here are, and know nothing of the laws, and 99% of people going out and buying drones are flying them over crowds.  My neighbor just got one.. He's a Coach for a local school district, and the school district bough him a drone to photograph the games and take team shots, etc.  I asked him if he had looked in to the FAA guidelines, and he had never heard of them.  I can assure you, the same goes for 99% of the people buying drones. 
    The people here are at least doing it responsibly and for a good cause.  

  • Wow, you really have an agenda here since you are clearly making some baseless assumptions and veiled accusations while having little to no information on background or context. I'm sorry, this is not the kind of conversation I wish to engage in. Thank you for clearly confirming that we need to provide training on humanitarian principles to UAV operators. Over and out.

  • Oh ok so who weights the risk of having a drone falling on the head of a poor refugee in order to obtain footage and an extremely detailed 3d map of the camp? And what's the o so important use of this material in order to help these poor people that was worth taking that risk?
  • Oh dear, may I suggest that you carefully re-read the Code of Conduct and the Supporting Guidelines in full? Also, the principle of "Do No Harm" is not about eliminating risk, it is about weighing risks and benefits while implementing strategies to mitigate said risks. Please note that I am exclusively referring to the use of UAVs for humanitarian and development projects. In any event, I very much value you response because it confirms that we definitely need to offer courses on humanitarian principles to UAV operators who are interested in applying their expertise in support of humanitarian efforts; just as much as we need to offer courses on UAVs to humanitarian professionals. 

  • Patrick as a matter of fact I have read the code of conduct and it mentions " Do no harm: assess and mitigate potential unintended consequences that UAV operations may have on affected communities and humanitarian action." So you tell me what happens when mid flight you copter decides to lose an esc ?

    I'm pointing out that humanitarian or not flying over people is generally not safe no matter the cost of the drone.
    I'm sorry but I don't see the difference with the other post which presents images from Orange County Register and it's generally frowned upon by the drone community.
  • @Sergios, the second sentence of this post reads as follows:

    "He did so with permission and also engaged directly with local communities in the process—as per the guidelines listed in the Humanitarian UAV Code of Conduct." Have you read this Code of Conduct along with Supporting Guidelines? Have you read the list of humanitarian organizations that have contributed to these guidelines?

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