This is part 1 of a 3-part series explaining one of the most powerful, yet amazingly misunderstood and under-appreciated functions of Drones: their ability to render measurable, accurate 3D models of any terrain or location by ‘simply’ (well not so simply) stitching together thousands of high quality images. (To be more accurate, dozens of supercomputers actually do the heavy-lifting in stitching aforementioned images together, churning out an integrated and useful whole.)

Modeling capabilities exist for even low-end drones, yet such theoretical functionality is (1) grossly underutilized and (2) grossly misunderstood.

This post tackles three themes: (a) purpose of models, (b) what models are, and (c) what models aren’t. The latter theme is the most interesting one, so we’ll go in reverse order.

  • What models aren’t: models should not be confused with motion overflights. The construction of a 3D model doesn’t require video at all. The accuracy and power of third parties (shout out to our favorite,, to generate a virtual video ‘overflight’ is a compelling ‘bonus’…but it’s not the end-goal. Moreover, although drone-generated models – assuming the front end pilot knows what s/he is doing and the back-end rendering solution Is first rate – (i.e. Altizure) models are not meant to generate crystal clear imagery.
  • What models are: If models aren’t meant to capture beautiful overflights nor reproduce the likeness of buildings in 4K quality, what’s the point? Herein lay the power! 3D models, which require minimum flight time, offer a virtually infinite amount of uses. If you want to see a 200 (or more) acre area from any angle on your terms, model it. The practical uses of such a special dataset boggles the mind.
  • The purpose of models. If you want to measure anything in a the real-world down to inch-level accuracy (land surveys anyone?), a model is what you need. We haven’t tried it, but if you wanted to print your neighborhood via a 3D printer, the output of a drone-facilitated model should do the trick.

In parts 2 and 3 of this ‘series,’ we further explore the endless possibly and utility of models. For now, happy flying!


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