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How a drone created the first high res 3D model of Christ the Redeemer in Rio

Photo: Pix4D and Aeryon Labs

Photo: Pix4D and Aeryon Labs

How do you map and model a 38 meter tall statue that’s located atop a 700 meter tall mountain? The obvious solution is LIDAR, a remote sensing technology that collects 3-dimensional point clouds of the Earth’s surface.

But with a statue so large and situated in a difficult to access location, it was a seemingly impossible task.

That’s until a team of engineers and drone pilots — along with the Aeryon UAV platform and Pix4D’s image processing software proved them wrong by mapping the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janerio, said to be Brazil’s most important monument.


Photo: Pix4D and Aeryon Labs

“Creating the first ever accurate 3D model of such a renowned statue with our software is a great way to showcase how image processing technology can achieve results that traditional technologies haven’t been able to produce,” said Christoph Strecha, CEO and Founder of Pix4D. “With its intricate detail, the statue was also a perfect structure to test out our new 3D textured mesh.”

But even with a drone, collecting the data is not easy.

Piloted by Aeryon Labs’ April Blaylock the drone was constricted by weather and wind conditions at the mountain’s high altitude, while also restricted by specific daylight hours due to shadows that caused inconsistent lighting conditions.

When captured, 2,090 images were converted into a 3D model by Pix4D’s Lisa Chen.4qlLEpzseoaXHxc2sDtDc_wVYYORsDKIVHmFQPxD8sw

The team also included Sonja Betschart, CMO of Pix4D, Lisa Chen, Celso Santos and Benoit Brot.

Some crazy numbers:

  • 2,090: the number of images used to created the 3D model
  • 2.5 million: the number of triangles with a texture of 16374X16384 used for the mesh
  • 6: number of days it took to acquire the images
  • 19: number of 10-minute flights it took to acquire the images
  • 2: number of weeks it took for the 3D reconstruction
  • 38: height of the Christ the Reedemer statue (in meters)
  • 28: armspan of the Christ the Reedemer statue (in meters)

The project will eventually be used by Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro.


“This project took years of waiting by the NEXT lab team and many months of planning and collaboration across several time zones to pull the technologies together in Rio,” commented Dave Kroetsch, Aeryon’s President and CEO. “We are pleased to have participated and that the Aeryon UAV platform was instrumental in creating the first accurate 3D model of the Christ the Redeemer monument.”

Watch it all on video below:


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