In this paper we present a simple stand-alone system performing the autonomous acquisition of multiple pictures all around large objects, i.e., objects that are too big to be photographed from any side just with a camera held by hand. In this approach, a camera carried by a drone (an off-the-shelf quadcopter) is employed to carry out the acquisition of an image sequence representing a valid dataset for the 3D reconstruction of the captured scene. Both the drone flight and the choice of the viewpoints for shooting a picture are automatically controlled by the developed application, which runs on a tablet wirelessly connected to the drone, and controls the entire process in real time. The system and the acquisition workflow have been conceived with the aim to keep the user intervention minimal and as simple as possible, requiring no particular skill to the user. The system has been experimentally tested on several subjects of different shapes and sizes, showing the ability to follow the requested trajectory with good robustness against any flight perturbations. The collected images are provided to a scene reconstruction software, which generates a 3D model of the acquired subject. The quality of the obtained reconstructions, in terms of accuracy and richness of details, have proved the reliability and efficacy of the proposed system.
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