Making invisible Italy visible

Explore the past to understand the present and shape the future –BBC One, in collaboration with Scan Lab Projects, will be revealing invisible architectural and engineering insights of three of the most ancient and fascinating Italian cities – Naples, Venice and Florence – using Leica Geosystems latest Mobile Reality Capture Technology.

BBC’s Italy’s invisible cities series, will allow viewers to explore visible and hidden corners of these renaissance cities with 3D digital models. The 3D point cloud models obtained from the real cities allow the public to go on a digital journey, through all the facades, walls, and even below water, to uncover the secrets kept in the streets and buildings of these cities that have 2,000 years of history.

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In today’s episode Alexander Armstrong and Dr Michael Scott delve into a series of underground tunnels, constructed by ruling Bourbon kings in the 19th century. These tunnels link historic quarries and Roman aqueducts, interacting with the modern city above in surprising ways.

This environment represented an extreme challenge for surveyors. The location is defined by narrow aisles and deep ceilings, where corridors are covered with all sorts of stones and the risk of slipping is latent with every single step. However, the light at the end of the underground ventricles welcomes you to a beautiful vivid city exposing the majestic Mount Vesuvius.

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Exactly where other technologies face limits, the Leica Pegasus:Backpack shows its virtues step after step. Using the most adaptive carrier – the human body– professionals just need to wear it to start collecting data. Designed with an ultralight carbon mono frame and excellent ergonomics, it captures the environment by using two LiDAR scanners and five high dynamic cameras, generating an accurate, fully registered and colorized 3D point cloud model even in GNSS denied areas by using SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) positioning technology.

With the Pegasus:Backpack as a partner, the team could climb, kneel or crawl if needed to collect the data. Armed with a powerful flash light module, even in absolute darkness, the Pegasus:Backpack provided clear images of the underground buried Naples – helping to create one of the most comprehensive 3D maps of Naples ever produced.

To follow the Mobile Reality Capture revelations watch the full transmission of Invisible Italy.

Dates for transmission in the UK:

  • Naples – Wednesday 4th Jan, BBC ONE, 9pm
  • Venice – Wednesday 11th Jan, BBC ONE, 9pm
  • Florence – Wednesday 1st Feb, BBC ONE, 9pm

To catch a glimpse of the journey in every city take a look at these 360° interactive video based on the 3D models.

In Naples, explore the ruins of the Roman holiday seaside resort with a reputation for vice and de-bauchery.

Explore the Doge’s Palace on Venice’s St Mark’s Square and discover the secret torture chamber in the heart of the republic’s power structure.

Explore the secret corridor that allowed Florence’s ruthless rulers to travel through their city unseen.

Written by Alessandro Nuzzo
Product Line Manager Mobile Mapping
Leica Geosystems

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