Aerial imagery and data collection are currently make up the bulk of commercial drone business. However, as drone technology advances, we will continue to see their capabilities expand. Recent projects have focused on using drones and drone swarms to create highly intricate 3D models of landscapes and structures – models which are invaluable for many industries. Creating a model of a famous landmark or building once took a dedicated team months behind a computer. Now, a commercial drone operator can accomplish the same task in a matter of days, or even hours, depending on complexity of the mission.
Government programs have already begun 3D mapping some famous destinations – the United States Geological Survey used a swarm of drones to create a model of the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. Models like this can be used in classrooms across the world, allowing students to view famous locations that they would otherwise be unable to visit. As both drone technology and virtual reality become more ubiquitous, the need for commercial drone operators to provide 3D modeling solutions will increase to match.
This can also help provide information in a simple and clear way. While paper maps may be difficult to parse, 3D models do not suffer from this problem. Real estate developers will no longer need to trek to each location to have a three-dimensional view of their site. A locally contracted commercial drone operator can provide a model to be viewed remotely and from any altitude or direction. This information can then be shared with everyone involved and modified to show how the final construction will appear.
The most critical use for drone based 3D modeling is in locations that are potentially hazardous to human life. Mines and disaster struck areas that may be suffering from severe structural damage can be completely modeled by unmanned aerial systems, providing information that can reduce or eliminate further destruction or injury. Coupled with 2D imagery, 3D models can create a complete analysis of the situation. This allows repair crews to plan ahead to avoid any situations that could be dangerous, providing an unparalleled degree of risk mitigation.