3D models with Lidar data

November 2019

I just spent far too much time playing with a new tool called Aerialod. It's free software that allows you to create 3D models from Lidar data.

If you haven't heard of Lidar, it's a process that involves firing laser beams to measure distance. If you fit these lasers to a plane, you can create 3D models of the ground beneath.

Armed with this new software and the right data, it's pretty simple to create some stunning imagery. My first attempt is of Bristol city centre (bottom right is Temple Meads train station):

City of Bristol (Lidar)

Creating a model is a drag-n-drop process, although fiddling with almost endless settings to achieve the right lighting took much longer.

That made me want to push a little harder.

I noticed the Aerialod demo doesn't use raw Lidar, just a black and white graphic. The shading represents the heights used to generate the model.

I grabbed the data for my office in Swindon (Nationwide HQ), exported it out of Aerialod to a PNG file then cropped the image into a circle and added text.

Re-importing it back to Aerialod resulted in this nice little 3D penny of our offices, with duckpond:

Nationwide House 3D model with Lidar data

I have literally no idea what practical use this is - but it was fun to do 🤓

Making this visualisation

Data: 1m DSM data from the Environment Agency website

Tool: Aerialod