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GIS - 3D Modeling and Volumetric Analysis

coal pile_web

Aerial imagery from the Aeryon Scout brings a new level of speed and accuracy to building 3D models of ground surfaces.  This is particularly true for modeling and volume calculations in mining – where an aerial perspective reveals surface details that cannot be reliably measured from the ground.  Aeryon customer and GIS service provider partner, Geo-Rhea, is a leader in geo-spatial analysis for several industries and applications and uses the Aeryon Scout to produce extremely accurate models and volume calculations.  This translates into more effective operations and measurable cost savings for its customers.

Mission Description

The primary objective of each flight is to capture precise images from which mosaic images can be compiled, 3D models can be rendered, and volumetric calculations can be generated. The quality, precision, and frequency of the aerial images are critical to producing results that are greatly superior to traditional ground based methodologies and those of larger or small fixed-wing aerial vehicles.

Use Details

Capturing the necessary images requires flight planning including use of the Scout's AutoGrid™ functionality to create an automated grid waypoint flight path based on survey parameters.  These parameters include many custom settings such as image overlay for optimal feature identification and image stitching.  All images include geo-referencing metadata which permits location determination for image stitching and creating 3D data points.

Flying at a height of 400’ or less, a pixel resolution of less than two inches is consistently achieved, improving the accuracy of the volume calculations by reducing the need for data interpolation.  Altitude, resolution, and overlap, are critical factors to the precision of models and calculations.   

The analysts at Geo-Rhea fly with confidence due to the Scout’s advanced flight intelligence including many automated functions and safety features, and easy-to-use point-and-click map navigation – RC experience not required!  This allows analysts to focus on their specialized task and precise requirements of capturing imagery for scientific purposes.

The Scout’s durability in wind, weather, and climate allow it to perform where many other small UAS cannot.  The Scout recently flew a mission in winds up to 45 km/h.  As a VTOL, the Scout can also take-off, fly, and land in confined areas in contrast to fixed-wing UAS. 

Using commercial software, Geo-Rhea begins the data compilation processes to produce their finished products; aerial mosaics, 3D models, and volumetric analysis. Recently, consuming data from 3 flights, Geo-Rhea analysts generated 285,000 X, Y, and Z, points as inputs for their 3D modeling.  These points formed the ‘Point Cloud’ which is used to generate the final deliverables for volume and modeling (see images below).


For more information about the services offered by Geo-Rhea and how they use the Aeryon Scout check out the Geo-Rhea blog and software provider PhotoModeler.

Interested in mapping GIS applications?  Check out the AutoGrid Aerial Mapping for GIS mission summary which includes more information on GIS aerial mapping and use of the Scout's AutoGrid™ functionality.

 The following are sample images and model outputs of a recent volumetric project undertaken by Geo-Rhea.



Area11 stitch-Compressedarea11points all2-Compressed  area11tin back-Compressed

click to enlarge

[Mosaic Image; 3D Point Cloud; Triangulated Irregular Network]


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