The First Ever 3D Model of a Refugee Camp Made with Drone Imagery

 

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 As you can tell, the satellite image is very much out of date.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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Comment by Dronin on August 17, 2015 at 1:19pm

THat is amazing! How long did it  take you to generate the model?

Comment by Dronin on August 17, 2015 at 1:20pm

And what app did you use to make the model? You say SketchFab but that looks like a repository for models, not a modeler itself

Comment by Jerry Giant on August 17, 2015 at 9:55pm

great results, i apologize for the prior comment.

Comment by Matthew Schroyer on August 18, 2015 at 6:06am

Hi Max - SketchFab is the repository for models, but the model itself was created using Agisoft Photoscan. Once all the still images were extracted from the video, it took about 2 hours for the software to align the photos, create a dense point cloud, and finally create a mesh and texture for the model.

Comment by Dronin on August 18, 2015 at 8:14am

Awesome thank you!

Comment by Azhar T. Pangesti on August 18, 2015 at 11:33am

Another option (for Phantom 2 V+) is to use Pix4D's apps (Android and iOS, free).
It will do auto-take-off.. fly in grid... auto-landing... then the images (not videos) are stored in the SDcard with geotag included. We can then feed it to Photoscan as usual.

Comment by Patrick Meier on August 18, 2015 at 11:46am

Yes indeed, thanks Azhar. My colleague only captured aerial videos because he was working on a video documentary. It would certainly have been easier to work from images and use the Pix4D app. On that note, am hoping the app gets updated for the Phantom 3 very soon.

Comment by Sergios Zafeiropoulos on August 26, 2015 at 2:40am
Oh so flying over people is not an acceptable practice but flying over refugees in order to make a 3d model of a refugee camp is ok ?
Comment by Patrick Meier on August 26, 2015 at 5:05am

@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?

Comment by Sergios Zafeiropoulos on August 26, 2015 at 6:42am
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.

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