R/C Planes and Camera Fun with Google Earth

The guys at PictEarth have been doing lots of fun things with remote controlled airplanes loaded with cameras, Nokia N95s, and all kinds of gadgets. This weekend, Valery Hronusov (from Perm, Russian) and David Raillant from France have flown to meet up with their US branch in California. Jeff Johnson from the US office let me know they have been working on their software for taking images on the fly from the planes and showing them in Google Earth. They have released an example KML file this weekend which shows a flight with a remote controlled plane. It uses the time slider to show progressive frames from the camera as the plane takes off and flies around. What is interesting to see is the effective alignment of the images with the base imagery from GE. Check out this video they released this weekend showing more about how they do this – from launching the plane, until it lands:

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. smokeonit says:

    are they selling the s/w? or the full system?
    or do they only offer their services???
    on their website it’s not that clear… no pricing, only vague info… and some pictures from Cali…

  2. Thank you for good post. However, when I tried the example kml file, all the images are not registered correctly, unlike the movie file. Is there any reason??

  3. I attempted to contact them for pricing information, or if the system was available for purchase — no response as well.

  4. PS: It wouldn’t [or shouldn’t] be difficult to mod the CCD on the N95 by taking out the filter so it would take raw CIR. You could then do crop/vegetation analysis with the system without having to purchase an entirely different sensor package.
    That is, if the N95’s using the typical CCD sensor with the filter. If it’s an algorithm approach, then it’d be more complicated — having to hack the chip.

  5. Hello
    Images shown in the kml are taken raw from the phone (copy and paste). To create the video we have removed images that were not accurate enough. The quality of the live georeferencing on the phone depends on the flight conditions. Most of the time the plane shoots straight down but during take off, landing and turns the camera is no longer shooting verticaly. We are in the process of improving on the hardware side(using inertial measurment units, gyros…) and software side (calculate perspectives…) However our primary goal is to provide an easy to use, low cost platform giving everyone a chance to go out and shoot images. Do not hesitate to join our community on ning to get involved and share ideas. More information will soon be available from our new site. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have further questions

  6. kevin holden says:

    When will Google Earth be updated. I live in North East England and these images are about 7 years old.
    Kevin Holden

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