DroneMapper Product Improvements, New Features and VTP

JP Uncategorized

December 31st, 2012

We've updated the DroneMapper imagery processing suite with the following fixes and new features for 2013:

  • All GeoTIFF products are clipped to Area of Interest (AOI) mask or AOI shapefile provided by the customer or automatically generated in our processing chain.
  • 32 Bit DEM product is clipped to AOI mask or shapefile automatically.
  • 32 Bit DEM nodata areas have been minimized.
  • 8 Bit DEM remains unchanged.
  • Orthomosaic(s) products have an alpha band indicating nodata and transparency.
  • DSM product is clipped to AOI with nodata set to 0 (black).
  • Improvements to Orthomosaic equalization, blending and color balance.
  • Additional algorithm improvements and testing.
  • New BigTIFF and BigDEM generation, large area tiling and processing workflow.
  • Ground Control Point feature, Windows 2D GCP generation tool.
  • Improvements in website user interface to allow traffic from mobile devices.
  • Improved SSL support.

Please see below for more details on certain features and changes.

The example above shows the original Digital Elevation Model product on the left and new DEM product on the right. The result is clipped to the Area of Interest (AOI) and the nodata values are set to allow transparency.

We've made significant improvements with our Orthomosaic color balancing and blending routines. Additionally, we've added an alpha channel to the product for transparency and better support in GIS software packages.

The example above shows the original DSM product on the left. Using an automatically generated mask or customer provided shapefile the AOI is clipped and a new DSM is generated. Nodata values have been assigned to 0 to allow for background transparency display inside GIS software packages.

Virtual Terrain Project (VTP)

Recently we used the open-source Virtual Terrain Project (VTP) which easily constructs any part of the real world in interactive 3D digital form. Ben Discoe and the VTP team have put together a very useful software package and a site packed with great information.

The example screenshot above provided by Ben Discoe shows a portion of the Pinery data set modeled with VTP.

Drone Mapping Easter Island Chile, Rano Raraku Quarry

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Decemeber 25th, 2012

Back in May we processed an interesting data set from Easter Island, Chile at 30 cm / px GSD. Kim Anh Hoang from the Easter Island Statue Project used the 30 cm Orthomosaic and DEM to produce a 3D Flyby of Rano Raraku and an EISP excavation site. We've now re-processed the data at the highest resolution possible, 15 cm / px GSD. The original imagery was obtained using an autonomous UAV flying at an elevation (AGL) of ~330 meters with a consumer level Ricoh GR Digital III camera. The GR Digital III is not GPS enabled, so geo-tagging was accomplished locally using the UAV flight controller logs. In total, 140 NADIR images were shot at 10 mega pixel covering an area of 3.7 km^2.

"Rano Raraku is a volcanic crater formed of consolidated volcanic ash, or tuff, and located on the lower slopes of Terevaka in the Rapa Nui National Park on Easter Island. It was a quarry for about 500 years until the early eighteenth century, and supplied the stone from which about 95% of the island's known monolithic sculptures (moai) were carved. Rano Raraku is a visual record of moai design vocabulary and technological innovation, where 397 moai remain. Rano Raraku is in the World Heritage Site of Rapa Nui National Park and gives its name to one of the seven sections of the park." Rano Raraku – Wikipedia

A map of Easter Island/Rapa Nui, showing the three main volcanoes Terevaka, Poike, Rano Kau, as well as Anakena beach, the islets including Motu Nui. Modern Hanga Roa and Mataveri International Airport, the ruins at Orongo and the quarry at Rano Raraku. It marks major ahus with moai.

Above we've displayed a small subset of 8 images from the original 140. We recommend obtaining more overlap and imagery for an area of interest (AOI) this size.

Contact Us for the full geo-referenced downloadable data set.

The Pinery Country Club Project – Accuracy Reports

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November 15, 2012; The Pinery Project

In a collaboration between DroneMapper, Falcon UAV, CompassData, Inc. and The Pinery Country Club we collectively demonstrated accurate geo-spatial mapping (in 3 dimensions) of a reasonably large area using affordable technology – UAV, consumer camera and ground control. First, a little bit about our partners:

  • Falcon UAV  is a small unmanned aircraft designed to provide live aerial reconnaisance and airborne sensor capabilities to those who require a military grade system at a fraction of the cost. Capable of providing over an hour of endurance, day or night, the system provides public safety communites, research organizations, academia, and industry a professional hand launched UAV solution at an affordable price. For more information please visit – http://www.falcon-uav.com/
  • CompassData, Inc. provides the world's largest commercially available ground control data set – complete global coverage with 18,000 ground control points available for download. For more information please visit – http://compassdatainc.com/
  • The Pinery Country Club offers as one of its amenities a private 27 hole golf course in Parker, Colorado. Management at the Pinery was very gracious in allowing us to collect imagery over their property. In addition, the property contained 15 precision (5 or 30 cm absolute position) ground control points that were used for data processing and accuracy quality verifications. For more information please visit – http://www.thepinerycc.com/club/scripts/home/home.asp

This ortho shows the Pinery CC area of interest and the ground control that was mapped by Falcon in a 1 hour flyover. The area covered was approximately 3.4 Km^2 @ 13 cm GSD.


Falcon being hand launched.


Typical ground control point being surveyed.


Pinery ortho detail.

3 digital elevation models (example shown above) were constructed using 1) only camera GPS tags, 2) only Falcon flight log GPS tags and 3) 6 ground control points. For cases 1) and 2) all 15 GCPs were used for accuracy evaluation. In case 3) 9 GCPs were used for QA evaluation. The table below shows the Root Mean Square Error in meters and the Circular Error at a probability of 90% for each of the 3 cases. 

Values below represent absolute accuracy for this data set.

Test Case RMSE X (m) RMSE Y (m) RMSE Z (m) CE90 (m)
1 – Camera Tags 8.4 6.7 27.6 14
2 – Falcon Tags 4.5 9.2 27.7 6.4
3 – 6 GCP 0.17 0.18 1.9 0.35


Contact us for the full accuracy reports from CompassData, Inc.

DroneMapper Free Trial Period Ends October 26th, 2012

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On October 26th, 2012 DroneMapper will cease the free trial period (< 25 images), offered for the last 6 months. Beta testing has been completed and orthomosaic/DEM processing capabilities demonstrated. Our imagery processing service will charge to the following schedule:

< 1 sq. Km area – $20,
> 1 sq. Km to < 2 sq. Km – $40,
$20 per sq. Km thereafter.

Prices are USD, payment is possible via invoice, paypal, or credit card via paypal.

The schedule rates assume 10-12 Megapixel imagery formats with ground sample distance of 5-10 cm. If you have imagery you would like to have processed at larger formats and/or better resolution please contact us. Thank you!

Skydrones Brazil Partnership Announcement

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We are very pleased to announce that we have teamed with Ulf Bogdawa and Carlos Hennig of Skydrones in Brazil. Skydrones provides full service UAV design, development, manufacturing and operations training to the Brazilian commercial and civil markets. With this partnership, Skydrones will be the exclusive source of our image processing in Brazil.

"A SkyDrones tronou-se parceiro comercial exclusivo no Brasil da empresa Dronemapper. A Dronemapper (www.dronemapper.com) processa conjunto de imagens aéreas para produzir mapas georeferenciados e mapas de superfície digitais (DSM). Estes mapas são utilizados para documentação de construções, IPTU, reflorestamento, cadastro de áreas de risco, cálculo de volumes e dados para estudos de enchentes entre muitos outros usos. É possível fazer o upload de até 15 imagens para que sejam processadas sem custo. O serviço é interessante pois o cliente não precisa comprar um software para processar as imagens. Basta fazer o upload do conjunto de imagens e uma cotação será enviada. Após o pagamento via PayPal do serviço, será feito o processamento das imagens e a entrega dos arquivos processados. Um site está em construção para dar suporte ao cliente Brasiliero com instruções e exemplos (www.dronemapper.com.br)."