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April 17th, 2017
A Novel Solution for 3D Mapping Construction Sites: Put a Camera on a Crane

After making its name on the drone photogrammetry market, Pix4D is working its way into solutions designed specifically for construction–and some of those solutions are very creative.

First, some background: Pix4D offers a BIM solution built on existing technologies, called Pix4Dbim. It includes many of the same features as the popular Mapper solution, like desktop and cloud processing, automated UAV flight planning and data capture, orthomosaic generation, DTMs, point clouds, and so on.

But Pix4Dbim does more than making the site easy to capture with a drone. It also offers a function for comparing CAD or BIM models to orthophotos using an overlay. The idea is that a quick visual comparison can help managers catch mistakes and prevent costly rework.

Pix4Dbim also includes a timeline feature that enables users to move through consecutive captures to monitor construction progress.

Recently, the company expanded this solution with a unique addition: A crane camera for 3D mapping. Since you’ll already have a crane on your construction site, just mount the camera on the jib and it will collect images during normal operation. Next, the solution uploads the images wirelessly to Pix4D’s cloud platform where it is automatically turned into 2D or 3D models. From there, you can share and analyze using Pix4D’s platform.

The camera itself includes sensors to detect crane movement and automate data capture. Because it captures photos automatically, and without any extra input, it makes it easy for projects to capture data frequently—even when drone use isn’t allowed.

The solution was developed in cooperation with Liebherr, a large manufacturer of construction technology. Liebherr’s Thorsten Hesselbein, head of tower crane solutions, said that the company “wanted to spot what was really important in the BIM age. We organized workshops with our clients to identify the needs of the future. Being able to visualize and monitor the progress of construction sites was one of the key challenges highlighted.”

Pix4D announced the solution at Intergeo 2016 with an early adopter program. Now, having tested the crane camera with construction companies in a number of configurations and environments, Pix4D is making the crane camera available for wider purchase. See the company’s website for details.