Airbus Aerial has developed a 3D inspection tool that uses high-resolution imagery captured by drones to evaluate residential and commercial structures and  assets. Insurance companies–and soon, companies within the utility and telecommunications industries–will be able to use this tool to conduct routine inspections and process claims.

This tool differs from Aerial’s geospatial analyses because the high resolution satellites only capture 2D images from a “top-down” view. In order to inspect residential and commercial assets such as bridges, homes, water towers, etc., imagery must be collected from all perspectives using a close-up, high resolution camera. Once a drone captures detailed images of a particular asset, the imagery is uploaded to Aerial’s could-based data platform. Next, the asset is reconstructed into a 3D model using photogrammetry. The images and 3D model are then used to provide a suite of inspection tools.

Images and a 3D model are located in Aerial’s Data Portal, which inspectors will use to identify any damage sustained by the building.

 

An inspector will have access to this suite through Aerial’s Data Portal in a workflow built according to their industry. They will be able to view the high resolution images in their original spatial contexts alongside the reconstructed 3D model. Each image can also be annotated so that the inspector can keep track of which areas of the asset need to be repaired or evaluated. The workflow guides the inspector through the process of creating and generating a report that captures the state of the asset. Future workflow features will include distance and area measurements on the 3D model and automatic feature detection within the high resolution imagery.

This image has been annotated to record the building’s damage. These annotations will be available in a report with imagery and the 3D model for future use by an inspector or field technician.

 

Aerial’s 3D inspection workflow provides value to companies through improved safety, time savings, and cost savings. With this tool, field technicians can avoid dangerous situations. Using drone technology, the image collection process is faster than a technician taking pictures manually. Ultimately, these aspects will drive down the overall cost associated with performing inspections.

Real world applications of the tool include routine inspections of assets like bridges, insurance claims of small to moderate size, and insurance policy underwriting. The uses are currently insurance focused, but the ultimate goal is for the tool to be reusable within any industry. Essentially, the tool’s development is about analyzing assets for dimensional and functional characteristics for maintenance and compulsory inspection.