February 23, 2021

3D Scan Of A Crane Mast: Safer Structure Inspections With Drones

Guillaume Delepine

Guillaume Delepine

Skydio 3D Scan

After a lot of hard work, we have now brought Skydio 3D Scan™ to life. 3D Scan is a first-of-its-kind adaptive scanning software built on top of Skydio Autonomy. It is perfectly suited for inspections in any construction industry as detailed in our on-demand webinar. It automates the data capture of any scene with comprehensive coverage and ultra-high resolution so that crews can perform higher quality drone bridge inspections in less time and with minimal pilot training.

We cannot wait to see the impact Skydio 3D Scan will have for engineering firms, general contractors, and first responders documenting evidence. In our testing, we have generated dozens of high-fidelity models, and the results have impressed both our own teams and our beta customers. Today, I’m excited to share with you a model that speaks to the future of 3D scanning and reconstruction.

Drone Inspection Of A Crane

Today’s model (click here to see it in 3D on the Skydio Sketchfab!) is of a Crane Mast, the likes of which is common on many industrial sites. These components, which support heavy machinery suspended above active job sites, must be regularly inspected and maintained for worker safety.

However, conducting careful inspections of crane masts pose a challenge. Climbers are limited to the central staircase and cannot see the outside of the mast. Manual drones have untrustworthy obstacle avoidance and cannot fly up close, plus their magnetometers are unreliable in close proximity to metal structures. So, to inspect a tower, a typical manual drone inspector would have to maintain a long standoff distance from the subject, relying on an expensive and delicate zoom camera to generate precision imagery from a high-altitude grid pattern.

A construction site crane mast needs to be inspected for rust and other damage.

The complex, metallic structure of a crane mast is difficult for a manual drone to navigate near, requiring long standoff distances and expensive hardware to compensate for conservative flight patterns.

Not so with 3D Scan. Skydio’s Adaptive Mapping algorithms help the drone iteratively design a structure-specific 3D Scanning path, and follow it with full obstacle avoidance engaged. The Skydio vehicle autonomously explores and models the structure as it flies, and then automatically executes an image capture plan that provides efficient and complete coverage. As a result, the drone can capture imagery up close, from multiple angles, of every point in the volume that the pilot specifies at the beginning of the flight. On this crane mast, it is clear how the drone designs a unique pattern for the subject at hand, and generates a spectacular 3D model.

Crane Tower

With its Adaptive Scanning algorithms, Skydio autonomously discovers structures while in flight and generates optimized flight patterns that provide the best possible output.

Additional capture details are below. To learn how you can apply this incredible new technology to your inspection operations, please do not hesitate to contact us .


  • Platform: Skydio 2
  • Date: Feb 6, 2020
  • Distance: 4 meters
  • GSD: 1.7 mm
  • Overlap / Sidelap: 80 / 70%
  • Photos: 501
  • Fly Time: 29 min


  • Package: Bentley ContextCapture (Learn More )
  • Computer: Laptop w/ Quadro GPU
  • Process Time: 90 minutes

What team would you like to contact today?