Bluesky with CityMapper captures cities in 3D

January 9, 2019  - By 0 Comments
St. Paul’s Cathedral in London was captured in RGB. (Image: Bluesky)

St. Paul’s Cathedral in London captured in RGB. (Image: Bluesky)

Aerial survey company Bluesky International Ltd. is using the Leica CityMapper to capture imagery of major cities throughout the United Kingdom.

CityMapper is a hybrid airborne sensor combining vertical and oblique imagery with 3D laser scanning designed for 3D city modeling and urban mapping.

Using the CityMapper, Bluesky was able to capture parts of London, Manchester and Birmingham as well as Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Norwich, Nottingham and Oxford. Bluesky intends to increase its coverage by capturing additional towns and cities across the U.K. and Ireland in 2019.

St. Paul’s Cathedral in London captured in lidar point-cloud data. (Image: Bluesky)

St. Paul’s Cathedral in London captured in lidar point-cloud data. (Image: Bluesky)

According to Bluesky, this is the first time the technology has been used commercially in the UK to this level. The captured city data is available from Bluesky and Leica Geosystems, part of Hexagon, in its constituent components of vertical orthorectified aerial imagery, oblique photographs and lidar point cloud data. Plans are in place to also include the imagery in the HxGN Content Program.

The combination of multiple survey-grade cameras and lidar enables the simultaneous capture of data for the automatic creation of highly accurate and detailed citywide 3D models, with one sensor, according to Bluesky.

Previous 3D models have either been prohibitively expensive for use across larger areas or of insufficient detail or accuracy. The CityMapper sensor enabled efficient, cost-effective capture of highly detailed and accurate data, and could make possible widespread use of 3D models possible.

The CityMapper sensor is designed for 3D city modeling and urban mapping. (Photo: Leica Geosystems)

The CityMapper sensor is designed for 3D city modeling and urban mapping. (Photo: Leica Geosystems)

CityMapper includes a traditional vertical camera as well as survey-grade oblique cameras. The sensor also includes high-performance lidar technology to accurately collect elevation data even into the shadows, which are common in urban environments and make photo-based data collection difficult.

The CityMapper sensor also collects color infrared data, which can be used to aid greenspace mapping and vegetation studies.

Applications of the new Bluesky 3D models are expected to include urban planning, line-of-sight analysis, new development visualizations and environmental modeling, as well as potentially 3D fly throughs and virtual reality experiences. Early adopters of the data include architects, planning consultants and other map publishers.

Tracy Cozzens

About the Author:

Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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