3D Point Clouds

photogrammetry project drones London, photographic and video surveys for building & roof inspections,

We were ask a local history group to document and map an area of a Brockley and Ladywell cemetery in Brockley South East London .  See about 3D Point Clouds and Drone Photogrammetry from here.

3D Point Clouds

Drones used for surveying.

As this is a conservation and nature reserve area as well as being a historical site. We needed permission from the landowner to fly here. Luckily we had connections with the Friends of Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries group. www.foblc.org.uk who introduced us to Lewisham Council who in turn generously. Gave us permission to fly from the site.

3D Point Clouds and Drone Photogrammetry

Our aim was to produce an example of 3D Photogrammetry.

3D Point Clouds

We decided on a location that was the old chapel on the grounds.

3D Point Clouds photogrammetry and drone work

Using drones for photogrammetry.

The methodology behind 3D Photogrammetryis obtaining still images at various points around an object (the chapel). Luckily for us, we had a decent space (a few close trees. But the generally open area to encircle the chapel.

Once we had set up an orbit flight path around the chapel. We then proceeded to take regular photos every 1 or 2 seconds. Whilst the drone took a pre-determined path. This would enable us using the software to compute what’s called a point cloud (a set of data points in space)

Please take a look at the video below of the process:

Using the software a point cloud would be generated. Which would, in turn, create a 3D model of the chapel from the 2D stills images of the camera of the drone.

Building a  3D model is a good historical record of any subject (a face, sculpture, art) or building.

3D Point Clouds drone surveys

3d Photogrammetry with drones

Depending on photographic resolution (the camera's specification with regard to resolution) determines the amount of detail. You can achieve this in the final model.

Once the data has been interpreted and a model generated. It can export from the software in various 3D formats (files) that can use. For example to create a 3D model using a 3D printer.

Alternatively, the model could be transcoded into a video editing package for use in a film or perhaps other media projects.

Many cameras on drones also collect the GPS data for each still frame. So there is a possibility of integrating the model using google maps.

Another example of 3D integration from Central London:

3D Point Clouds photogrammetry and drone work

this example shows the front elevation of a London Townhouse again. This is a good historical record of any location note that. We did not require a full 360 of the subject as this would have been a very awkward location to photograph all around.

But it shows the compliance of a drone at any location.

Further reference see integrating 3D models with Google Earth:

3D Point Clouds


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There are a number of reasons why you might require the use of a drone. Whatever your requirements, if you choose for hiring a survey drone pilot then you will need to make several considerations in order to determine whether they are reputable and trustworthy. 

10 Tips For Hiring a Survey Drone Pilot

So take a look at these ten tips and select the right pilot for the job in hand.

Find Out About their Certifications

for hiring a survey drone pilot

Operating an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) drone requires pilots to carry relevant certifications. Here in the UK it is the PfCO, Permissions for Commercial Operations, issued by the CAA, Civil Aviation Authority. In other countries this varies significantly. Therefore, it is important that the drone pilot is licensed to work in your country. And has a clear understanding of all local and national drone safe regulations.

for hiring a survey drone pilot CAA PfCO drone surveys training

Check That They Have Liability Insurance

They will need to have the correct level of liability insurance in place and that means that you will need to see proof. (Using a PfCO certified pilot  a declaration is made they carry the most suitable insurance. This will ensure that they are covered for any damage to persons and property in the event of an accident. They should be able to carry out a risk assessment as part of the project brief and depending on your assignment. The level of insurance they have might need to be adjusted. 

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Do They Have Previous Experience in Your Type of Project?

The type of project you are carrying out will depend on the type of drone pilot you choose. Therefore, you will need to make sure that they have experience in working on similar projects in the past. You need to ensure that they can meet the specifics of your project and meet your expectations. They should have a portfolio that showcases their work as well as reviews and references. All of which will help you to make an informed decision.

for hiring a survey drone pilot

Make Sure they Carry Out a Safety Risk Assessment

Before any kind of drone flight, the pilot should carry out a risk assessment in advance. This will ensure that the work can be carried out in a safe and controlled manner. You can ask them if any assessments that they have completed for other projects. Including similar risks that could become apparent in your project. They will need to ensure that the safety of the public and persons is paramount. As well as any other aircraft will be operating in the area at the time.

NOTAMS : A notice to airmen (NOTAM) is a notice filed with an aviation authority to alert aircraft pilots of potential hazards along a flight route or at a location that could affect the safety of the flight. Or NATS - NATS Holdings, formerly National Air Traffic Services and commonly referred to as NATS, is the main air navigation service provider in the United Kingdom. It inherited the traditions of UK air traffic control, which (founded over Croydon Airport) was the world's first air traffic control regime.

Always Double Check that it is Safe

Even though a risk assessment has been carried out, you should always double-check. This is a serious part of the process and carrying out due diligence is absolutely vital. Until a Pilot is on site and has seen the location, its never fully understood, even though Google maps does a great overall search of the location, theres no substitution for being at ground levels on site...You will need to know 100% whether there are any small potential risks that are worth considering and make sure that nothing has been overlooked.

for hiring a survey drone pilot PfCO certification

drone operator london, drone surveying qualifications for hiring a survey drone pilot.

Ensure they are Qualified

Obviously, you must always use qualified pilots (it is illegal in the UK for unlicensed pilots to charge for their services. As any commercial pilot will tell you. But there are many people out there who are operating drones without the correct qualifications. Therefore, they should be registered with the Civil Aviation Authority.  CAA -so you can go to them to find a list of qualified pilots and also find out when their license expires. Remember that if you use someone who is not registered then they will not be insured. A project is considered a commercial operation if you are using a drone for commercial gain.

Do They Have Experience?

Of course, you are going to need a pilot who has experience and is going to get results. As a result, you will need to ask them what experience and skills they have. While many people can master the skill of flying a drone. Having the skills to carry out photography. Filming or mapping is a separate skill altogether. 

for hiring a survey drone pilot drone equipment

using drones on site

Do they have the right equipment for hiring a survey drone pilot

The reason for asking this is that naturally. You are going to want to make sure they have the right equipment that will allow them to carry out the work correctly. Whether you want to film, take photographs or map an area, they are going to need specific equipment. To add to this, you are going to want to make sure they can deliver results to a high standard. Ask to see examples of their work and if you like what you see. Ask them to put in writing what they can deliver.

Put a Contract in Place
hiring a survey drone pilot

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There is every chance that your project will cost a significant amount of money. Therefore, a contract will protect both parties. This could prove to be a crucial aspect of ensuring you have the right pilot for the task in hand. Should something go wrong or if there is a dispute then a contract will be essential. Your contract can include many different aspects such as agreeing to fly the drone in a specific area only. Such as an area that you own and what you expect to receive as part of the service. A contract will ensure that everyone understands what is expected from the project.

Find out When the Project Can Begin for hiring a survey drone pilot

After you have determined whether the pilot meets the criteria. It is important to find out when they can work. Therefore, asking this in advance will enable you to prepare. Especially if your project can only be undertaken at a certain times of the year.

Choosing the right pilot is crucial for a number of reasons including safety. Ensuring that they deliver your project and have an understanding of what is required of them. Following these ten tips will enable you to make an informed decision and help you to select the right drone pilot for the task in hand. Drop us a line here at Helidrone Surveys for more information

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