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Collision and crime scene investigation - with drones

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police use drones to document collisions and crime scenes. But do they measure up to traditional methods?

Drones and drone mapping allows investigations to be conducted under all weather conditions and provides broader views than traditional procedures.

Do drones measure up?

A demonstration project was designed to compare drones to traditional methods of surveying (measuring tape, laser scanner).

A demo crime scene, featuring a dummy on the ground surrounded by several cars.

Measurements were taken with both drones and traditional methods to demonstrate the accuracy and reliability of the achieved reconstruction results so that they can eventually be used as admitted evidence in court.

Project details

OrganizationThe Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
IndustryEmergency Response (Forensic)
Project DateSeptember 2014
Project MembersDraganfly, Aeryon Labs
Project Size3.1 Acre
Number of Images212
GSD1 cm

Collecting evidence

Two data sets of a made-up crime scene were acquired with quadcopters from Aeryon Labs and Draganfly. The ground sampling distance was less than one centimeter in order not to miss any details.

A member of the The Royal Canadian Mounted Police making notes in front of an emergency vehicle.

The full flight took less than thirty minutes including the pre-flight preparation. Eight yellow evidence markers were placed around the collision scene, indicating the location where all evidence was found.

Cross examination

Pix4Dmapper’s total processing time was approximately two hours on a laptop with a core i7 and 8GB RAM. A densified point cloud, digital surface model (DSM) and orthomosaic were generated. Annotation and measurements were directly made in the software user interface.

collision scene with measurements in Pix4Dmapper

The reconstructed results either exactly match or are within one centimeter accuracy when compared with traditional methods (tape measurements and laser scanner). Detailed comparisons of results can be found in the White Paper.

Case closed

Using drones and Pix4Dmapper for reconstructing accident and crime scenes provides an immediate response, saves time and expenses and offers highly accurate outputs. Generated results are available permanently and users can access files files and make measurements anytime when required to. Actual scenes are preserved in 3D and with detailed information within centimeter accuracy.

Read the full Technical white paper or view the full project video below.

In addition and compared to other precision instruments such as laser scanners, the cost of execution and maintenance of drone mapping is much lower.

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Adopt drone-mapping for collision scene investigation

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