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Graphics Software Science

Fast Generation of 3D City Models 84

FleaPlus writes "New Scientist and UC Berkeley News report on research by Avideh Zakhor and Christian Früh on rapidly and automatically generating photo-realistic 3D models (coral cache) of city environments. This is reminiscent of research mentioned here in March, although the approach is rather different. Applications for areas like urban planning, entertainment, emergency response, and the military are discussed. Zakhor's group is also working on 4D systems, to allow for recording of events over time as moving 3D models."
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Fast Generation of 3D City Models

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  • Finally!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 07, 2005 @02:08PM (#12463043)
    The long awaited release of Sim City 5
  • SGI? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dclaw ( 593370 )
    If I remember correctly... companies like Silicon Graphics have been doing this for several years for the military using their reality center systems to analyze satellite photographs of combat zones in real time.
    • Re:SGI? (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      can we have a special moderation adjective for the first asswipe to say 'Meh, people have been doing this for years!' Something like "-1, Nothing New Under the Sun"? Thank you.

      • can we have a special moderation adjective for the first asswipe to say 'Meh, people have been doing this for years!' Something like "-1, Nothing New Under the Sun"?

        You want an acronym that would be spelled "NNUTS"? :)
    • Re:SGI? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Janitha ( 817744 )
      But that was mostly done with scanning the distance around a given point (or several points), and it had no image but just a depth map, even if there was image it would be used to simply identify more the object at a given point, not to this scale.

      This is quite impressive, yet they still have to work out those glitches that are quite visible. Its fast, but they are giving away precision for speed.

      The other thing I don't understand is the used for rapid generation of these, speed is good, but cutting dow
    • true, it was not done to this scale... and was certainly not photo-realistic... but, it was still distinct enough to make out exact buildings and landmarks.... and certainly enough to make out billboards and other such high visibility marketing.... and the last iteration I saw of such technology, which was about 2 years ago was using multiple satellite images of an area:

      1 or more top down pictures of the area, plus usually a 4-way side view of the area... giving "recognizable" quality representations of bu
  • Flight Simulator (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 07, 2005 @02:11PM (#12463062)
    This would be awesome for flight sims. If you want to view this in this in Linux here []is a viewer.
    • by roseblood ( 631824 )
      This would be awesome for flight sims.

      This way when you crash your virtual air-liner into an occupied landmark structure you'll be able to accurately determine which floor, even witch windows, will be hit as you commit you're holy jihad and make your way to the company of 72 (isn't 42 enough?) virgins.
  • Now the military can fake invasions in cities while working with the media to control us all. Cool. /removal of tin

    • If there is a way to help oppressed people rid themselves of murderous tyrants without killing lots of people and destroying cities I'm all for it. Then we wouldn't need a miltary anymore because democracies don't start wars.
      • democracies don't start wars.

        mod that up for funny.
        • The US has nothing againts the people of Iraq. We tried through all kinds of technology to only take out the murderous genocidal tyrant aggressor Saddam Hussein. The war would have not even started if the technology had worked. It didn't, I'm all for trying to improve the technology so we don't have to destroy a country in order to save it. Saddam killed all the people who disagreed with him, the opposite of democracy. That is not funny.
          • by andreyw ( 798182 )
   rontpage/4503061.stm []

            Why the fuck did we go to war, causing more instability in the region, countless civilian and military deaths, destruction of property and countless archaelogical sites and finds, again??
          • so we don't have to destroy a country in order to save it

            i suppose there is no room for relativism in the world. however, if there was then i do not understand why the united states is the only country in the world that knows what is right and every one else needs to be saved. please keep your xenophobic and arrogant opinions to yourself. it is not the united states' job to save everyone. we cannot even save ourselves. and even if that was our job, how is forced starvation of a people through sanctio
  • Excuse me.. but 'photo realistic' usually means that it is close or completly indiscernable the same as an actual photo of a real city. To be honest I've seen similar things from Sim City 2000 and see no real merit from the 'final product'. Really, how is this new? Sim City? huh? Nevermind!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      What's new here is that street-level capture took 25 minutes of driving and was completely automated.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 07, 2005 @02:24PM (#12463134)
  • by FlyByPC ( 841016 )
    I've seen more realistic scenery in Flight Simulator.
    • I've seen more realistic scenery in Flight Simulator.

      Prettier maybe, but not more accurate or easy to compile.
      • You might be surprised what can be obtained. In my Flightsim install, while admittedly buildings aren't accurate outside of the major cities, I've got every road, powerline, and railroad track in the US. Also got terrain with 15m (or less) data point spacing across the entire US. Flying over the rockies looks absolutely stunning.

  • some links (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward []

    this also provides some more info on this []
  • lidar (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kebes ( 861706 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @02:37PM (#12463190) Journal
    This technique should be replaced with (or combined with) LIDAR techniques. LIDAR (Light Detecting And Ranging) is like a laser version of radar, and it can be used to generate 3D maps of objects or topography fairly quickly. A LIDAR-enabled plane can do a fly-over of a city and quickly generate 3D maps. For instance, check out these LIDAR images [] of New York pre and post 9/11.

    I've always thought that these 3D maps of cities should be combined with satellite imagery so that you could 'paint' the rooftops onto the buildings and streets. In fact, most satellite images are at a slight angle, allowing you to paint the facades of buildings. The techniques from TFA show how you could paint even more facades in the 3D model/map fairly easily. I think the LIDAR data would greatly simplify the painting algorithm, since the correct 3D shape of every object is known.

    I can't wait for the day when we can browse 3D maps online of any city. It would be useful for surveyors and architects of course, but also useful for planning trips, learning geography, and so on.
    • nice troll. Why don't you try reading the linked page nextime? Thats exactly what they're doing.
      From the FA.
      Airborne Modeling Generation of 3D models of rooftops and terrain shape from airborne laser scans and photos.
      Processing airborne laser scans
      Reconstructing surface geometry
      Texture mapping
    • I'm into panoramic photography, and always wondered, how involved would it be to mount a fisheye lens to a video camera mounted on the front left corner of a car hood, and drive up and down each street of a city (both directions) including all alleys, connected to a REALLY GOOD gps system, then have a QTVR composite that lets me manovuer at will through the city, up down/back right, turn, spin... I could have a map of a town, pick any street and orientation as a start point, and then just turn and advance
      • I'd say you'd be better off using multiple cameras so that you capture multiple directions at once. If you don't you'll probably have a very hard time making the result match up. (Ie have the same spot in the road in both directions at the same time.)

        There are systems like this however. If you look up computer vision research you can typically see stuff about systems that automatically build a "map" of the world. (Typically used with robots.)
  • 4d Futurists (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sellin'papes ( 875203 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @02:37PM (#12463194) Homepage
    Reminds me the futurist painters in the 1920s and 30s. They would try and capture an object from all different angles and movements for a period of time in one image.

    For instance Picasso (in his early days) did paintings of peoples faces from different angles and with different emotions all as one face.

  • by Matthias Wiesmann ( 221411 ) on Saturday May 07, 2005 @03:13PM (#12463359) Homepage Journal
    All the examples shown in linked article are US style cities, with straight roads and relatively simple roughly cubical buildings. I wonder how this technique fare with more complex buildings and street arrangement, as you find in the center of many European cities.

    I would really be impressed if they could automatically generate a 3D model of the three dimensional mess that is Lausanne []:

  • for example [] They were using laser to scan cityscape too.
  • The problem with these techniques is there are no algorithms I know of that account for the effect of light/shadows effectively. So the textures on your objects are going to include shadows. You can notice this effect on one of the images that have linked to in the article.
    • Just a guess, but couldn't you tell it where the light source is in the 3D image and have it calculate the lighting/shadows (as you would in any 3D scene) - get them to match up with the shadows you observe in the image, and use that to colour correct the textures
  • I wonder how long until Yahoo's A9 search engine (or another company in a competing effort) incorporates this technology into their "Block View" street digitization project. []

    Yahoo has been digitizing the front of buildings in major cities for some time now. It'd be great to see this imagery merged with Google's satellite view data from their KeyHole acquisition, to allow for 3d flythroughs of your favorite metropolitan area.

    This could take sites like MapQuest t

  • ...I can't think of anything more intelligent to say than "Damn, the next Sim City is going to be AWESOME!"

    That and, as a computer animator, I can see this being very useful various CG fields.
  • by marcuspl ( 808826 )
    I understand what they mean by a "4D modelling system" and all, but is that really the most adequate term for 3D scene recording / editing? Does it even have a cool-buzz-word-hype ring to it?

    Or was it called "4D Studio Max"? It has been a while since I abandoned the world of 4D editing, for good ol' simple 1D (top down yeah?) programming...

  • it's not every day you see posts on slashdot that have giant detailed 3d models of two blocks from your house...
  • If you dont squint your left or right eye and really really look at it you can kinda see how it resembles... Dali's The Persistence Of Memory painting.
  • How easy would it be to take this modeling infomation and to import it into one of our favorite games, such as CounterStrike or CS:Source?

BLISS is ignorance.