The Matterhorn, which juts out a full kilometre above the surrounding Swiss Alps, dominates the local skyline and has challenged countless mountaineers since it was first scaled in 1865.
Now this iconic peak has been mapped in unprecedented detail by a fleet of autonomous, fixed-wing drones, flung into the sky from the summit by their makers. What's more, the entire process took just 6 hours.
The mapping, which was unveiled at the Drones and Aerial Robotics Conference in New York City last weekend, was carried out by unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) company SenseFly, and aerial photography company Pix4D.
Three eBee drones were launched from the top of the mountain, skimming their way down 100 metres from the face, capturing points just 20 centimetres apart. When they reached the bottom, a second team intercepted the drones and relaunched them for further mapping.
Speaking to Mapbox, the mapping company that built the 3D point cloud of the mountain when the drones had landed, SenseFly's Adam Klaptocz said: "Such a combination of high altitudes, steep rocky terrain and sheer size of dataset has simply not been done before with drones, we wanted to show that it was possible."
A video crew follows senseFly's (http://www.sensefly.com/) team of engineers marking a historic milestone in proof of surveying techniques, using eBee minidrones to map the epic Matterhorn and construct a 3D model of "the most beautiful mountain".
The mission involved the coordination of several teams with multiple eBee drones taking over 2200 images in 11 flights, all within a few hours of a sunny alpine morning. The results are stunning: a high-definition 3D point-cloud made of 300 million points covering an area of over 2800 hectares with an average resolution of 20 cm. A special thanks to our partners Pix4D (http://www.pix4d.com) for the creation of the 3D model, Drone Adventures (http://www.droneadventures.org) for mission coordination and MapBox (http://www.mapbox.com) for online visualisation.
senseFly is a Parrot company (http://parrot.com/)