Autodesk Cloud Services for Image-based Modeling

Will drone aerial photography businesses offer it as part of their services?

by Colin Snow, MBA | 2014-04-29 | Article ID: QT14-02 | Article Type: QuickTake


ReCap 360 from Autodesk is a cloud service for collaboration and image-based modeling. At a recent SF Drones Startup Meetup, Autodesk showcased a video of a 3D model of a skate park in San Francisco that they created with a GoPro camera, a DJI Phantom drone and ReCap 360. You can view the video here on YouTube. ReCap 360 allows users to create and share professional-grade 3D images from high-resolution photos. You simply upload the photos via a browser, and the software processes in the cloud the images and creates the composite model you desire. Autodesk tests have proven, these models (or renders) work well with images captured from small low-altitude drones. Since the resulting information collected (called point clouds) can be integrated with Autodesk’s other 360 cloud applications – like Building Information Modeling (BIM) – 3D CAD engineers can design and simulate models with realistic image overlays. Because it is cloud based these mockups are more easily shared with clients or work teams. Recap workflows include notifications of cloud process completion. The significance of what Autodesk showcased is the inclusion of aerial images from drones. Models previously contained images only from ground level, so 3D renders were somewhat limited in scope. You could see the sides of buildings, but not a complete side-to-side and ground-to-overhead view combined. Since drones can fly and take photos over rooftops, those images can contribute to the 3D render. Cloud-based services like Autodesk’s offer small business the chance to subscribe to software with a pay-as-you go license fee. Instead of purchasing thousands of dollars of desktop software upfront, businesses can ‘rent’ just what they need. Most services offer free trials and some, like Autodesk, even offer a ‘pay-per-sip’ service so businesses pay only for each render itself – not a monthly fee. Given the low cost, ease of use, integration capabilities, and completeness of offering, ReCap 360 presents drone startups another low-cost service they can offer in addition to 2D aerial photography. The question is, Will they?

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Colin Snow