I thought 3D scanning would be extremely painful to do without fancy equipment or complicated setups. However, Autodesk has a free (at least free for students) service called 123D Catch which allows you to upload pictures and have them processed as a 3D model on the cloud. Simply amazing. I just learned of this software today, and had a low quality test with my quadrotor on my desk:
Considering it was done with just 20 unfocused, low resolution photos that didn’t cover the entire span of the model, this 3D scan is amazing. I wish I had access to the source code.
Many applications for this. It’s a 3D printer’s dream to be able to record something on the field and have a replica of it printed in a few hours without ever having to touch or measure the reference object. That could be done by scouting with a quadrotor or drone, or just by hand or in a studio. The drone 3D model capture idea sounds great though. I’ll try to take some aerial photos and try to make a 3D model out of that later with the big quad. Another cool idea is taking underwater video and stitching that. More things to come.