Viewing Point Cloud Data in AutoCAD Civil 3D

The point cloud data deliverable that comes with every DroneDeploy mission can be utilized in AutoCAD Civil 3D to create a variety of derivative layers. This tutorial shows how to get the data there in the first place.

Download Point Cloud Data from DroneDeploy

  1. Select the Map you wish to import from the DroneDeploy dashboard
  1. Choose 3D Model as your map type, and then Export the map.
  1. Enter an email address to receive the exported map. Select Point Cloud as the proper Asset Type, and finish by clicking Export to submit your request. After a few minutes, your requested data will be waiting in your inbox!

Now that you have your data

  1. Upon receipt of your exported point cloud in your emaIl inbox, click the download link to procure a zipfile containing your data. When prompted, save the zipfile to your computer.
  1. Upon notification in your browser that the download is complete, locate the downloaded orthomosaic on your computer (in the Chrome browser, you’re looking for Show in Folder on the drop-down on the file link off the downloads bar).
  1. Using the file extraction method of your choice, extract the point cloud data from the zipfile. The extracted raw data is delivered as the .las file format, also used to record LiDAR data.



Most modern operating systems have native extraction tools.

With the data extracted, it’s time to open AutoCAD Civil 3D.

Import the Point Cloud Data into AutoCAD Civil 3D

  1. Open the .dwg file in which you wish to use to your point cloud data, or simply begin with a blank drawing.

  2. Go to the Settings tab on the side bar. Right-click on the project name and click Edit Drawing Settings

  1. Set the coordinate system to the appropriate selection for your project location. In this example, we use NAD83 California State Plane, Zone III, US Foot, however, your selection may differ. Check the two boxes: "Scale objects inserted from other drawings" and "Set AutoCAD variables to match"
  1. With Toolspace and Prospector active on the Home ribbon, activate the Prospector tab. In the Prospector tab, right-click, Point Cloud and select Create Point Cloud.
  1. Into the Create Point Cloud dialogue, you'll need to begin by setting Information parameters.
  • In Point Cloud Style select True Color if you want a visual that mimics your final mosaic image.
  • Selecting the Layers icon will run you into the Layer Selection dialogue, where selecting V-SITE-SCAN is the AutoDesk recommended layer in which to display a point cloud.
  • With layer Information defined, click Next.
  1. To Source Data parameters in the Create Point Cloud dialogue, we'll need to define input and output paths, along with the coordinate systems we'll be using.
  • Under Source Data, select Create A New Point Cloud Database.
  • Under Select A Point Cloud File Format, select LAS.
  • Click the plus icon on the right of the dialogue to specify the source data path.
  • In the section of the file path table labled Coordinate System, click the [...] icon.
  • In the Select Coordinate Zone dialogue, set Categories to Lat Longs and the Available coordinate systems to WGS84 datum, Latitude-Longitude; Degrees. Alternatively, if you're keen to show off your AutoDesk prowess, simply enter CRS:84 under Selected coordinate system code.



You may remember from the data delivery message in your inbox that our point cloud is referenced to EPSG:4326. The CRS code CRS:84 is the AutoDesk equivalent.

Your Select Coordinate Zone parameters should look like this -

  1. Back to the Create Point Cloud dialogue, select a location for the New point cloud database.
  • Likewise, the point cloud database needs a coordinate system. for this exercise, we'll keep it the same (no reprojection of the data). As before, the coordinate system can be selected using the click the [...] icon, this time at the lower right of the dialogue.
  • With data parameters set, click Next.
  • The Current drawing's coordinate system should automatically show the one specified in Step 3

  1. In the Summary section of the Create Point Cloud dialogue, review your inputs and click Finish.
  1. You'll be prompted with a notification that your point cloud is processing in the background. This usually takes a few minutes (time to check your email or catch up on your news feeds!).
  1. When complete, you'll be prompted by a balloon notification with a Click here to zoom hyperlink to the data extent (click it!).

Congratulations! your point cloud is now ready to be used in AutoCAD Civil 3D 2016!

Want to know more about leveraging point cloud data in AutoCAD Civil 3D? AutoDesk has a fantastic documentation set:

Click here for general information about using point Clouds in AutoCAD Civil 3D

...prefer a proper lesson?

Check out this Tutorial on Working with Point Clouds

Updated about a year ago

Viewing Point Cloud Data in AutoCAD Civil 3D

Suggested Edits are limited on API Reference Pages

You can only suggest edits to Markdown body content, but not to the API spec.