A BYU team, led by BYU professors Kevin Franke (civil engineering) and John Hedengren (chemical engineering), has developed a program that will allow a drone to map its own route and fly independently to image an entire city. The team tested the new algorithm recently in Italian cities that were destroyed by a massive earthquake two years ago. The algorithm, created by Hedengren and his students, makes it possible for the drone to collect images from every vantage point rather than flying a traditional vertical pattern looking down at the city. The algorithm also minimizes the number of images the drone will take, reducing the data size. Once the data is collected, the drone images are used to create highly accurate and detailed 3D infrastructure models. Engineers can use these 3D models to evaluate why structures failed, and to design structures that can better withstand earthquakes in the future.
Two years ago, Franke worked with Italian colleagues as part of a National Science Foundation reconnaissance team to collect drone images of these same Italian cities. The 3D models, which are available to the engineering community, can be found at https://bit.ly/2yStU1o
Franke, known for his family's popular 8 Passengers YouTube channel (youtube.com/8passengers), also documented the trip (with the BYU team and his daughter Shari Franke) for his channel at https://youtu.be/fMLEetj-0aw