The copyright issues associated with using other peoples data is often a nightmare, as such it is sometimes preferable to map/survey an area yourself. This is where the Microdrone comes in handy – an unmanned aerial vehicle equipped with a digital camera and a GPS it provides an easy route for gathering data.
Of note in the specifications is the units ability to gather stereo data, allowing essentially a 3D model to be constructed from the flightpath. This combined with oblique imagery from the same flight opens up the prospect of texture mapped models of small areas.
The movie below shows the Microdrone in action:
The clip is slightly creepy to be honest with the unit peering into windows and spying on women on beach towels – the Microdrone also resembles the surveillance units in Half Life 2 (see our City 17 movie).
Bringing it back to geography and urban models, the movies would also be of use for camera matching allowing a local context for 3D models. In short we want one – sadly we cant afford a unit with prices coming in at 25,000 Euro.
You can buy one and find out more details from OrbitGIS.