DroneMapper Labs: Benefits of Combining UAS Oblique & NADIR Aerial Imagery

DroneMapper Labs: Benefits of Combining UAS Oblique & NADIR Aerial Imagery
Jon-Pierre Stoermer, CTO - DroneMapper.com
 


DrnMppr R&D Labs update!: We recently finished development on a photogrammetric workflow that combines oblique and NADIR collections into one automated processing pipeline. Below is a visual example of two different processing methods we've developed here at DroneMapper. The first method being the traditional NADIR processing and the second method adding in obliques of the same AOI. We used the outstanding MapPilot iOS application to perform the traditional grid collection over the AOI, while still in flight we switch to Litchi and complete 2-4 "orbit" mode oblique captures. We've found that by adding in the oblique imagery data, one can extract cleaner digital elevation information, model the sides of structures/vegetation more accurately, generate a true geo-referenced 3D model for CAD applications and more! We completed these R&D flights with our DJI Phantom 3 Advanced over the last month.

Additionally, we've implemented a full GPU pipeline for our processing chain! The examples below were processed on a NVIDIA GTX 580.


A grid flight pattern generated in MapPilot with terrain awareness.


The camera poses for the oblique and NADIR collection.


A Colorado State Plane geo-referenced point cloud processed with NADIR imagery only.


Digital Elevation Model processed with only NADIR images in a traditional photogrammetric fashion.

From the previous two graphics, one can see that the DEM is constructed well but there is a considerable amount of structure and vegetation missing.


Digital Elevation Model processed with oblique and NADIR imagery from the DJI Phantom 3.


An example of an Orthomosaic generated from oblique and NADIR imagery with a NADIR score calculation on each pixel.


Elevation profile shown in Global Mapper for vegetation of interest.


The final product: Geo-referenced textured mesh in Colorado State Plane projection viewed in MeshLab.


The final product: Geo-referenced textured mesh in Colorado State Plane projection viewed in CloudCompare 64bit.

So, how does it work? The short answer is we take the geo-referenced point clouds and generate a mesh. With a geo-referenced mesh we can then project the textures from required images onto the model.

Pretty cool. Let us know if you are interested in learning more!


Geo-referenced wire-frame mesh.


An example of the images, orientations and textures for mesh construction.



DroneMapper Precision Mapping Session – DJI Phantom 3 & Inspire

DroneMapper Precision Mapping Session – DJI Phantom 3 & Inspire
Pierre Stoermer, CEO - DroneMapper.com
 

Come join us for a 1-day interactive session and hands-on demonstrations of how to dial in your DJI platform for producing precision maps and valuable products for engineering, construction, mining, surveying and agricultural markets, amongst others. The session will be held in the town of Eckert (located on Hwy 65) on the south side of the beautiful Grand Mesa in Western Colorado. The fee for participants as well as the timing of the session in 2016 will be determined from responses to this post.

Envisioned Agenda (subject to participant's desires):

  • Introductions (8:00 to 8:15) -

  • Autonomous mission planning and execution (8:15 to 9:00) -

    • What applications? - DJI Go, DroneDeploy, MapPilot, Litchi, others

    • Area of Interest, Safety, Hazards, Weather, Platform capability

    • Ground Control?

    • Considerations for remote places

  • Platform set-up (9:00 to 9:15) -

    • Pre-mission checklist

    • Camera set-up and verification

  • At the Site (9:15 to 9:45) -

    • Pre-flight checklist

    • Ground control, imagery targets and surveying?

    • Flight operations

    • Hazard bail-out

    • Post flight imagery quality assurance – DM QA/GCP tool, Geosetter

  • Abobe Buttes Mapping Flight (9:45 to 11:30) (weather permitting)

  • Lunch and discussion (11:45 to 12:45)

  • Imagery Processing (1:00 to 1:45)-

    • Do you really need the resolution you collected?

    • Control pre-processing

    • Rapid processing

    • Native resolution processing

    • File sizes – area and GSD

  • Post-processing – Global Mapper (1:45 to 2:30)

    • Visualization and analytics

    • Coordinate transformations

    • Exporting to CAD drawing formats

  • Abobe Buttes 3-D Modeling Flight (2:45 to 4:00) (weather permitting)

  • Open discussion (4:00 to 5:00)

Class sessions will be held within the Mesa Space office building next to the Drost chocolate factory in Eckert. The Adobe Buttes area just north of Delta, CO, about 10 minutes from Eckert, will be used for mapping and 3-D modeling flight demonstrations. The Adobe's offer some very interesting topography, almost moon-like. You are welcome to bring your own DJI platform for complete set-up and participate in the autonomous collections.
 

If you have interest in the session please send Pierre an e-mail stating so (pierre@dronemapper.com), other session topics you would be interested in and the time frame you could attend. Thank you for your interest and feedback!
 

Mesa Space located in Eckert, ColoradoMesaSpace.org

 

UAS Colorado and Black Swift Technologies team up to Showcase the San Luis Valley, a Drone Paradise

UAS Colorado and Black Swift Technologies team up to Showcase the San Luis Valley, a Drone Paradise

After pushing through the daunting 10,709 foot Hayden pass, the San Luis Valley (SLV) stretched out for miles below us. The Cessna 172’s windshield failed to contain the vast landscape, guarded on all sides by snow-capped mountains, and both pilot and passenger found themselves craning their necks to take in the view. The area is truly unique, featuring a diverse collection of farmlands, ranching, canyons, vast national forest and wildland areas, and mountains over 14,000 feet high. It’s also unique due to the abundance of local support for both unmanned and manned aviation, including specific improvements to airports to support UAS operations, as well as securing permission for partnering companies to operate up to 15,000 feet MSL.


The incredible diversity of the SLV, including 14,000 foot peaks and vast agricultural areas.
The incredible diversity of the SLV, including 14,000 foot peaks and vast agricultural areas.

Black Swift Technologies and UAS Colorado recently partnered to showcase the outstanding flight and regulatory conditions of the SLV in Saguache County, Colorado. On April 22, 2016 Jack Elston, CEO of Boulder based Black Swift Technologies, and Constantin Diehl, President of UAS Colorado, flew the 172 from the Denver area to meet with County Commissioners, Airport Managers and Economic Development representatives to showcase the area’s excellent conditions and the ease with which they can be utilized.


Jack Elston, CEO of Black Swift Technologies (left) with SwiftTrainer UAS and Constantin Diehl of UAS Colorado (right).
Jack Elston, CEO of Black Swift Technologies (left) with SwiftTrainer UAS and Constantin Diehl of UAS Colorado (right).

In a regulatory environment that is not always conducive to commercial UAS operations, there has been a special effort to create a local environment for UAS testing and evaluation in Colorado. In fact, the operational limitations in the SLV are less restrictive than in most of the designated FAA UAS test sites across the country because of the coordinated efforts between 6 Counties. Additionally, airport managers and county commissioners have partnered to improve local facilities in support of extended UAS operations. Michael Spearman, project coordinator for Leach airport and Director for “High Altitude UAV Testing” in Saguache County was excited to talk about the improvements that they’ve recently completed:

Michael Spearman, Project Coordinator for Leach Airport and Director for “High Altitude UAV Testing” in Saguache County was excited to talk about the improvements that they have recently completed and those that they are currently working on.

“We have added specific areas for conducting UAS operations as well as added improvements to make multi-day operations feasible without having to leave the Airport.
UAV operators, will be able to park their equipment, set up their ground infrastructure and support teams for as long as necessary to accomplish their objectives. 100 LL fuel is available for aircraft. Secure overnight clean storage areas are available for UAV’s as well as adequate electrical outlets for charging batteries. Outdoor shaded areas with tables and propane grill are available, so is a Lounge/Conference room with conference table, refrigerator, microwave, water, telephone, Wi Fi and bathrooms.


(left to right): Jack Elston, Randy Wright, Michael Spearman, and Ken Anderson observing the mapping flight.
(left to right): Jack Elston, Randy Wright, Michael Spearman, and Ken Anderson observing the mapping flight.

Spearman, along with County Commissioner Ken Anderson and Executive Director of the Alamosa County Economic Development Corporation Randy Wright, met Constantin and Jack when they landed, eager to see a particular piece of cargo: The SwiftTrainer UAS from Black Swift Technologies. Although compact and incredibly simple to operate, the vehicle is quite capable. Among a host of other features, it contains a proprietary algorithm to determine location extremely accurately. This allows an operator to make use of images automatically obtained from the on-board 24 MP camera to create maps with centimeter-level accuracy, even without RTK GPS.

The group set off for nearby Penitente Canyon, a rugged grouping of igneous rocks left as a reminder of the area’s violent geological past. With exciting variation in elevation and limited open space to operate from, the area was perfect to test the SwiftTrainer UAS’ capabilities. After minimal setup, Jack threw the aircraft into the air and it began its mapping task, hardly struggling at an altitude of nearly 8000 ft. 15 minutes later the mapping was complete and the aircraft set itself down right next to the group. The data was sent for analysis to local Colorado company DroneMapper, who has been a key partner in realizing the incredible accuracy of data from the SwiftTrainer platform. Pierre Stoermer, CEO of DroneMapper, reported of the data set, “Once again, very nice flight lines and camera triggering. We are seeing a real photogrammetry collection platform in action.”


The Penitente Canyon mapping area seen from the Cessna (top left), The resulting 3D map (top right) and a close-up showing the incredible terrain detail (bottom).
The Penitente Canyon mapping area seen from the Cessna (top left), The resulting 3D map (top right) and a close-up showing the incredible terrain detail (bottom).

Following an additional mapping mission at a nearby ranch, the group was joined by Francis Song, OEM Director for Alamosa County Emergency Management. UAS represent a real opportunity to improve their ability to save lives. The SLV’s incredible collection of hiking, mountain biking and climbing opportunities bring throngs of visitors to the area every year, and with them the need for a well prepared search and rescue operation.

Francis, Ken, Randy and Michael are all representative of the incredibly supportive group in the SLV, excited to play an important role in the emerging UAS market. “Although it was only a short trip today, we were able to witness firsthand the incredible opportunities in this area. Black Swift Technologies already has plans to return in the near future as part of a NASA SBIR to sample plumes above high altitude volcanoes, and we’re incredibly lucky to be so close to one of the few places in the US where we can test the system at its intended altitudes,” commented Jack Elston. Given the incredible opportunities in the Valley, Black Swift Technologies won’t be the only company looking to travel here in the near future.

For further information on UAS Colorado, contact Constantin via email at cdiehl@uascolorado.com. For more on Black Swift Technologies, contact Jack Elston at elstonj@blackswifttech.com.

DroneMapper Labs: geoBit Ground Control Point Target Systems

DroneMapper Labs: geoBit Ground Control Point Target Systems
Jon-Pierre Stoermer, CTO - DroneMapper.com
 
geoBits.io



DroneMapper Labs: Grand Mesa 3D Cesium/GIS Demo

DroneMapper Labs: Grand Mesa 3D Cesium/GIS Demo
Jon-Pierre Stoermer, CTO - DroneMapper.com
 

An online browser based 3D GIS demo using CesiumJS and multiple data sources. The demo is also 6DoF/spatially aware if you are using a compatible mobile device.

Grand Mesa 3D Map



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