Changing Planet

Mapping Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer in High-Definition

This post is the latest in the Drones and Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Special Series, which profiles interesting information, thoughts and research into using  drones, UAVs or remotely piloted vehicles for journalism and photography, that Kike learns about during his travels.

3D UAV mapping technology is delving into uncharted territory, finding applications for the union of UAV hardware and image processing software not before used. Mapping the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro is one of those applications, as an accurate 3D reconstruction of the icon has never been produced. And for good reason: the 38 meter statue is perched on a narrow terrace atop a 700 meter peak, its location exposing it to high winds and irregular cloud cover.

 

Drone and Christ_05

 

The NEXT lab of PUC University in Rio de Janeiro had long dreamt of creating an accurate 3D model of the Christ statue, but ran into limitations using LiDAR technology. There were too many facades and high angles to scan the whole statue, not to mention the enormous cost of laser scanning and lack of a highly reliable aerial method with the hardware needed to acquire the data.

So when the lab saw that Pix4D, a Swiss company, had done a 3D reconstruction of the Matterhorn using UAV acquired data, they contacted the image-mapping software startup and asked them to help.

Pix4D and NEXT lab needed a highly controllable and reliable UAV for the flight, one able to withstand strong wind drafts and guarantee no accidental damage to the monument. They chose the small Aeryon Scout, a Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) quad rotor UAV that allowed for safe operation.

 

“Creating a model of Christ in Rio was perfect because it has such detail,” said Christoph Strecha, CEO and Founder of Pix4D. “It was the perfect structure to show the possibilities of drone usage in image processing technology, where traditional methods like laser scanning have not been practical.”

The team spent six consecutive days with the Aeryon Scout, collecting what came to a total of 3,584 photos before the visitors arrived each morning. 2’090 of those images were used for the reconstruction with Pix4Dmapper Pro, in addition to an on-site linear measurement taken by the project team, and 82 manual tie points to merge the sub-projects.
The final 3D model came out in complex form: both as a 134.4 million point point-cloud and as a full 3D textured mesh of 2.5 million triangles.

 

Follow Kike Calvo on FacebookTwitterWebTumblrLinkedIn or Instagram.

 

 

Learn More About Drones:

Kike Calvo´s Drone Collections 

Drone / UAV Dictionary: Includes 300 Commercial UAV Applications

Drones: Their Many Civilian Uses and the U.S. Laws Surrounding Them.

Cool stuff for Drone and Unmanned Vehicle enthusiasts

Drone Entrepreneurship: 30 Businesses You Can Start

Small Unmanned Aircraft: Theory and Practice

Introduction to Unmanned Systems: Air, Ground, Sea & Space

UAV Fundamentals Executive Course

How to Start an Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle (UAV) Business Course on DVD

Small UAV Construction

Getting Started with Hobby Quadcopters and Drones: Learn about, buy and fly these amazing aerial vehicles

Introduction to Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Drone Pilot (Cool Careers)

Fly by Wire Aircraft: Fighters, Drones, and Airliners

Introduction to Remote Sensing, Fifth Edition

Popular minicopters and drones include:

DJI Phantom 2 Vision

DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter with Zenmuse H3-3D 3-Axis Gimbal

DJI Phantom 2 Vision+

3d Robotics Iris+ Multicopter 915 Mhz 3DR IRIS+

DJI Inspire 1

Parrot MiniDrone Jumping Sumo

Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Elite Edition Jungle

Parrot MiniDrone Rolling Spider

Nano QX BNF

Walkera QR LadyBird V2 Mini

Hubsan SpyHawk FPV RC Plane

Badboy Quadcopter With Camera

The New Hubsan X4 H107L

MaxSale Hubsan X4 H107C 2.4G 4CH RC Quadcopter With Camera Mode 2 RTF

Award-winning photographer, journalist, and author Kike Calvo (pronounced key-keh) specializes in culture and environment. He has been on assignment in more than 90 countries, working on stories ranging from belugas in the Arctic to traditional Hmong costumes in Laos.Kike is pioneering in using small unmanned aerial systems to produce aerial photography as art, and as a tool for research and conservation. He is also known for his iconic photographic project, World of Dances, on the intersection of dance, nature, and architecture. His work has been published in National Geographic, New York Times, Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair, among others.Kike teaches photography workshops and has been a guest lecturer at leading institutions like the School of Visual Arts and Yale University. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic blog Voices. He has authored nine books, including Drones for Conservation; So You Want to Create Maps Using Drones?; Staten Island: A Visual Journey to the Lighthouse at the End of the World; and Habitats, with forewords by David Doubilet and Jean-Michel Cousteau. Kike’s images have been exhibited around the world, and are represented by the National Geographic Image Collection. Kike was born in Spain and is based in New York. When he is not on assignment, he is making gazpacho following his grandmother’s Andalusian recipe.You can now buy Kike´s products: http://bit.ly/RJXlqr You can travel to Colombia with Kike: www.colombiaphotoexpeditions.com

About the Blog

Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

Opinions are those of the blogger and/or the blogger’s organization, and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Posters of blogs and comments are required to observe National Geographic’s community rules and other terms of service.

Voices director: David Braun (dbraun@ngs.org)

Social Media