Would anyone care to fly around the Palace of the Academy?

Now you can, if you don’t mind pretending being on the back of a drone. Following is the finalized video and the brand new 3D model of the main building of the Academy. You can also take a glimpse into what happened behind the scenes during the making of the film.

20 March, 2017

The main building of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences is an iconic palace on the left side of the Danube in Budapest. If we add to this the spectacular view of the Chain Bridge (Lánchíd) and the fresh green spot provided by Széchenyi Square (Széchenyi tér), the “ingredients” for a spectacular drone film are ready to shoot.

It is worth noting that the drone operated in fully automatic mode while filming. We also witnessed how its trajectory and camera motion were set whilst in flight by the drone pilot who came from the Lechner Knowledge Center. Afterwards, the drone could only rely on its own GPS, its two stereo cameras and its ultrasound sensor as it followed its given path. The resulting two-minute-long film was shown before every lecture delivered during the Hungarian Science Festival.

However, showing the more than 150-year-old palace of the Academy from an unusual perspective was not the only aim of flying the drone in the center of the city. The drone, which is capable of taking 12 MP photos and shooting 4K videos, has produced hundreds of precise photos of the building. The experts of the Lechner Knowledge Center used these photos to create a virtual 3D model of the main building.

The Széchenyi Square facade of the Academy received special scrutiny. The drone took altogether 150 photos of it, flying in horizontal lanes exactly 15 meters away from the building. These photos were combined into the model of the facade. The photos made by the drone will also help us in determining the general state of the building. The high resolution pictures reveal details that would only have been apparent after scaffolding the building, a rather costly undertaking by all accounts. The pictures will also be used to draft a damage assessment map of the building.

Behind the scenes

The DJI Phantom 4 drone is operated by four rotors. While in flight, its sound resembles an unruly, oversize wasp. Its sting would probably be just as painful as such an imaginary wasp's if it had not been equipped with automatic anti-collision sensors. Bear this in mind, when watching the end of the below video when the pilot’s colleague is trying to catch the “wasp” on top of the Academy building.