Drone imagery produces first accurate 3D model of Christ the Redeemer statue

Drones are saving lives, delivering packages, and making movies, and now, we can cross “create an accurate 3D model” off the bucket list, too.

The Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, along with a 3D-scanning company called Pix4D and a Canadian drone company called Aeryon, has produced the first truly accurate model of Brazil’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue.

“Data was collected for six consecutive mornings, on-site in late October,” Aeryon said in its press release. “The main challenges for the data acquisition were the changing weather and wind conditions, restricted hours for data acquisition (flights could only take place before and after visiting hours), and inconsistent lighting conditions (shadows in early morning and late afternoon).”

Aeryon’s drone flew 19 10-minute flights and snapped 3,584 images, 2,090 of which were used to make the 3D model.

The 3D model, which measures 16384 pixels by 16384 pixels, can be seen below.

Given Christ the Redeemer’s historic nature and iconic global status, you would think that the Brazilian government would have long ago perfected the art of measuring the statue. But the structure poses unique problems for the typical high-tech scanning methods used to map large objects.

“Accurate 3D reconstruction has not been possible until today because technologies, such as LiDAR, cannot scan the complete statue due to its size, location, difficult accessibility, and challenging weather conditions,” Aeryon explained.

H/T The Verge | Photo via Mike Vondran/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Eric Geller

Eric Geller

Eric Geller is a politics reporter who focuses on cybersecurity, surveillance, encryption, and privacy. A former staff writer at the Daily Dot, Geller joined Politico in June 2016, where he's focused on policymaking at the White House, the Justice Department, the State Department, and the Commerce Department.