Efficiently scan complex structures with 3D Capture. Skydio assesses the scan volume and generates autonomous and adaptive flight patterns to ensure every angle of the structure is captured. Capture data can be used for inspection or to generate high-fidelity 3D models. 3D Capture is best for scanning structures such as bridges, transmission towers, architecture, machinery, telecommunications towers, and vehicles. 

Quick Steps

To use 3D Capture you will need to change the operating mode from Skills to 3D Scan. The operating mode will persist through power cycles.

To change operating modes: 

Step 1 - Connect to Skydio 2

Navigate to Device Settingsicons8-settings-24.png > Drone > Vehicle Mode

Step 2 - Select 3D Scan select_3d.jpg

Step 3 - Select Reboot

    • reboot in progress  - takes about one minute
    • Skydio 2 will connect to your controller and mobile device
    • ensure your Logs Card has been formatted before starting a scan
Step 4 - Select Start Scan and Agree to the disclaimer, acknowledging that you will comply with all relevant laws and FAA regulations. 


Before you fly:

    • GPS will be required for scans higher than 65 ft (20 m). 

    • You may redo any steps in the workflow. Doing so will reset the steps you have already completed and discard any media that has been captured. You will not be charged for discarded media.

To use 3D Capture:

To complete the workflow you will be required to select buttons displayed in the app. When available the in-app button will give you the option to use the controller's right or left shoulder button instead. left_right.jpg

Step 1 -

    • select Scan Mode 3D Capture
    • select Begin

Step 2 - Name Scan Site (optional)

The default scan name is composed of the scan mode you select followed by a UTC timestamp. Renaming the scan will replace the scan mode. 

    • Ex: 3D_Capture__2021-05-20T19-50-55.135854+00-00

Step 3 - Launch

Select and hold the LAUNCH button to begin your flight.

    • the drone will automatically climb to 16 ft (5 m) and hover

Step 4 - Set Rally Point

Skydio 2 will return to the Rally Point:

    • mission complete
    • low battery
    • lost connection 

Use Launch Point - Skydio 2 will return to the take-off location

Set Manually - manually pilot the drone to a new location

    • the Rally Point should be clear of obstruction and close to the scan region

Step 5 - Set Scan Floor

    • the lowest most limit of the 3D volume of the scan
    • the scan floor will be set in the Visual Geofence and the Edge Model Viewer as well
    • a ground launch will automatically set the scan floor to ground level
    • a full-screen view of the Floor AR will display allowing you to either drag the orange dot or fly to set the scan floor

The Scan Floor is set to 6.5 ft (2 m) below the Launch Point by default. If taking off from the ground—the ground will be included in your scan.

Move Floor – relocates the Scan Floor to the current altitude of the drone

    • select to adjust scan floor

Done – sets the scan floor

Level – adjusts the camera gimbal pitch to 0°

Reset – sets the scan floor back to default

Step 6 - Set Scan Ceiling 

    • the uppermost limit of the 3D volume of the scan
    • the scan ceiling will be set in the Visual Geofence and the Edge Model Viewer as well
    • the scan ceiling should be set above the structure you plan to scan
    • the scan ceiling is set to 9.8 ft (3 m) above the Launch Point or 16 ft (5 m) above the Floor
    • a full-screen view of the ceiling AR will display allowing you to either drag the green dot or fly to set the scan ceiling

Move Ceiling – relocates the scan ceiling to the current altitude of the drone

    • select to adjust scan ceiling

Done – scan ceiling set

Level – adjusts the camera gimbal pitch to 0°

Reset – sets the ceiling to 16 ft (5 m) above the user-defined scan floor 

Step 7 - Set Lateral Pillar Boundaries

    • define the lateral limit boundaries for Visual Geofence
    • define the lateral area of your model in the Edge Model Viewer
    • fly to the desired location select Set Pillar
    • continue placing pillars until the structure is encompassed
    • a minimum of 3 pillars must be set to create a 3D volume 

Set Pillar – adds a new boundary pillar

Undo – removes the previous boundary pillar

Done – establishes the set boundary or your scan

Edges of the polygon defined by the pillars must not cross each other.



TIP: Try adjusting the camera gimbal angle for a better view of where you are placing pillars. 

Step 8 - Set Visual Geofence

Enables a strict geofence around the scan volume. The Visual Geofence uses the drone’s visual navigation system to always enter and exit the 3D volume from the same location. Skydio 2 will honor the Visual Geofence during the Explore phase and the scanning process and when transitioning between the two.


To set the Visual Geofence, independently toggle strict or default geofence settings: Ceiling, Floor, and Lateral.

Skydio 2 will remain within the scan distance of the boundaries. Enabling a strict geofence blocks flight outside of the scan volume along the set boundary. The drone will continue to enter and exit the scan volume through the same location.


Skydio 2 will skip image capture locations that are located outside any of the toggled geofence boundaries. This may result in gaps in coverage. 

Step 9 - Set AR Observer

Set the perspective from which you will observe the progress of your scan in augmented reality (AR). The white lines denote the planned path of the drone. 

There are two ways to set the AR Observer perspective:

Review Suggestion (recommended) - Skydio 2 will fly to the ceiling of the pillar closest to the takeoff position. The drone will then face the structure (the centroid of the AR polygon-prism).

Set Manually - pilot the drone to your preferred vantage point and choose a spot that provides you with the best situational awareness for monitoring the scan’s progress. 


    • For best performance fly no more than 10 m from the scan volume and tightly frame the structure. Fill the frame vertically or horizontally. 
    • The AR Observer point is used to reorient the drone after completing a battery swap and resuming the scan. Ensure the drone has a clear path between the Launch Point, Rally Point (if set manually), and AR Observer point.  
    • Toggle ChangeViewButton.png to switch between the static AR Observer image and the drone’s camera feed at any time during the scan.

Step 10 - Explore

Skydio 2 will quickly fly 5.5 mph (9 km/h) around the scan volume to build an internal model of the scan. Skydio 2 uses this internal model to intelligently predict the total scan time and the number of capture points needed to complete the scan.

The explore phase should be a small fraction of the total scan time, and a rough time estimate is displayed.



Step 11 - Review or Edit Settings

View a summary of your scan settings:

    • scan time estimate
    • number of batteries required
    • total number of photos

Review your current settings and make any edits before the scan begins. Scan settings will impact the total flight time, the number of photos, and the required number of batteries.  


Scan settings persist across scans. Select the Reset button in the top right corner to restore default settings. 


Step 12 - Select Begin Scan and Skydio 2 will begin autonomously scanning the structure. 

    • AR Coverage Mesh - option to toggle on to monitor the photo coverage progress of the scan 
    • the scan may require several batteries to complete, visit How to 3D Scan using multiple batteries for more information.
    • pause scan - at any point during your scan select the pause pause.png icon a photo count will display
    • while paused - you can manually capture photos select the capture button
    • resume scan - select the play.png icon
    • skip next capture point - select skip

Step 13 - Manually Capture Photos 

Scan Complete will display an option to manually capture more photos:

Select Take Photo or Skip

    • manual photos will appear in the same scan folder as autonomously captured photos.
    • manual photos - may be captured at any point during the scan by selecting pause
    • interval mode - set photo capture time intervals (ex: photo every 5 seconds)
    • Obstacle Avoidance set to Standard—and cannot be changed
    • manual pilot - adjust obstacle avoidance in the Device settings menu

Step 14 - Scan Complete

Upon completion of the scan Skydio 2 will return to the Scan Start Point

    • select to start a new scan or return to the Launch
    • starting a new scan will prompt you with an option to save or discard the scan you just completed

Select Save and wait for the drone to complete post-flight tasks

    • This ensures that media is grouped by scan and is available in the Skydio Edge Model Viewer.
    • Do not remove the battery or power off during post-flight tasks. Doing so will result in a loss of data. 
    • Post-flight tasks will display Processing Scan>Task Queue>Calibrating
    • Do not power off or disconnect from the drone until you return to the Ready to Fly screen. 


Explore More

Explore related articles for additional information

How to scan using multiple batteries

3D Scan Settings Overview

Visual Geofencing in 3D Scan

How to use the AR Coverage Mesh for 3D Captures

How to set the AR Observer in 3D Scan

Accessing 3D Scan Data


If you have questions or need additional support—feel free to reach out! Skydio Support



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