3D Mapping with Pix4D – Part 1

I’m pretty excited to share this with you – We are gonna do 3D Mapping with Pix4D and Mavic Pro. We are going to use Pix4D and Mavic Pro make a 3D model of a water tower nearby.

 

In case you want to skip to Part 2 to see the final result.

This is my first 3D mapping experience, but I will show you the simple steps I used to create a 3D Object with Pix4D from footage captured by the final 3D model on the computer. You will also learn some of the pitfalls other tutorials leave out when things are not going as planned.

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3D Mapping with Pix4D

Today we will be using software from the Swiss company Pix4D, they have been around from 2011 and it seemed like a pretty easy solution to me started.

There are other options like Dronedeploy that work in a similar way. Have you tried 3D mapping, share your experience in the comments section below.

To build the model you basically capture a series of overlapping 2D images and a software algorithm stitches the images together to build a 3D model from this. It’s pretty amazing what results can be achieved.

We are using Mavic Pro to capture the footage, but other drones can be used as well. Because the software plans the autonomous mission based on your input, you need to make sure that your drone is compatible. Most of the DJI drones are supported as far as I know.

Check out Pix4D compatibility list:

https://pix4d.com/product/pix4dcapture/
First, you need to go the AppStore or PlayStore to download the Pix4D capture app. You need to get the PIX4D Ctrl + DJI as well if you have a DJI drone. I have included links the App stores in the description below. I’m using the Android version for this mission.

Pix4Dcapture Android:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id

Ctrl+DJI Android:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pix4d.plugindji&hl=da

Pix4Dcapture iOS:
https://itunes.apple.com/dk/app/pix4dcapture/id953486050
You need to create an account and activate the trial version of the cloud service to be able to seamlessly upload and process the images afterward.

Now we are ready to fetch images of the local water tower. Before you take off make sure your drone is running the latest firmware. Also, note that some of the screen recordings you will see have been speeded up, so not all is replayed 1:1 so what you experience in real life might differ from what’s in the video.

Sometimes it takes a while for the drone to take off. I have experienced delays up to 10s or more before anything happens. Sometimes I had problems where the App will not start the mission. There is luckily a work around. Just wait for an error message and then relaunch the mission. This is annoying, but at least it works the second time.

Further, I uninstalled to DJI go App to make sure it did not conflict with the Pix4D software, but it did not seem to solve the problem completely.

The flyaway

Well, you just witness a real flyaway of my Mavic, this was really scary stuff as the drone kept flying away from its mission and I had no control. The solution was to force it into Sports mode and take manual control. It took a few attempts to make it react, but eventually, I gained full control and could bring it back safe. To me, it seems like it’s approaching the flight path way too fast so it overshoots the waypoints. Pix4D you should consider making a setting to slow down the approach to the first waypoint.

After this experience, I want to add a disclaimer, that you should play with the Pix4D at your own risk and be aware this can happen. I hope Pix4D will look into this and fix it, as this is NOT ok.

Even if this was scary I decided to take one more for the community and see if I could complete a full mission.

This time the mission was a success and Mavic Pro captured 31 images. Unfortunately, I did not frame the tower, so was forced to do it again.

In Part 2 I will complete the mission and capture a full model of the water tower and convert it into a 3D model that can be viewed on the computer.

 

3D Mapping with Pix4D - Part 1

 

Hope you enjoyed the first part of this 3D mapping experiment, if so then smash that like button below. If you are new to this channel hit the subscribe button on the logo next to me so you don’t miss out on Part 2.

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