Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are an exciting new remote sensing tool capable of acquiring high resolution spatial data. Remote sensing with UAVs has the potential to provide imagery at an unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution. The small footprint of UAV imagery, however, makes it necessary to develop automated techniques to geometrically rectify and mosaic the imagery such that larger areas can be monitored. In this paper, we present a technique for geometric correction and mosaicking of UAV photography using feature matching and Structure from Motion (SfM) photogrammetric techniques. Images are processed to create three dimensional point clouds, initially in an arbitrary model space. The point clouds are transformed into a real-world coordinate system using either a direct georeferencing technique that uses estimated camera positions or via a Ground Control Point (GCP) technique that uses automatically identified GCPs within the point cloud. The point cloud is then used to generate a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) required for rectification of the images. Subsequent georeferenced images are then joined together to form a mosaic of the study area. The absolute spatial accuracy of the direct technique was found to be 65-120 cm whilst the GCP technique achieves an accuracy of approximately 10-15 cm.
Sensor miniaturisation, improved battery technology and the availability of low-cost yet advanced Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) have provided new opportunities for environmental remote sensing. The UAV provides a platform for close-range aerial photography. Detailed imagery captured from micro-UAV can produce dense point clouds using multi-view stereopsis (MVS) techniques combining photogrammetry and computer vision. This study applies MVS techniques to imagery acquired from a multi-rotor micro-UAV of a natural coastal site in southeastern Tasmania, Australia. A very dense point cloud (<1-3 cm point spacing) is produced in an arbitrary coordinate system using full resolution imagery, whereas other studies usually downsample the original imagery. The point cloud is sparse in areas of complex vegetation and where surfaces have a homogeneous texture. Ground control points collected with Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) are identified and used for georeferencing via a Helmert transformation. This study compared georeferenced point clouds to a Total Station survey in order to assess and quantify their geometric accuracy. The results indicate that a georeferenced point cloud accurate to 25-40 mm can be obtained from imagery acquired from similar to 50 m. UAV-based image capture provides the spatial and temporal resolution required to map and monitor natural landscapes. This paper assesses the accuracy of the generated point clouds based on field survey points. Based on our key findings we conclude that sub-decimetre terrain change (in this case coastal erosion) can be monitored.
Tree species diversity is a key parameter to describe forest ecosystems. It is, for example, important for issues such as wildlife habitat modeling and close-to-nature forest management. We examined the suitability of 8-band WorldView-2 satellite data for the identification of 10 tree species in a temperate forest in Austria. We performed a Random Forest (RF) classification (object-based and pixel-based) using spectra of manually delineated sunlit regions of tree crowns. The overall accuracy for classifying 10 tree species was around 82% (8 bands, object-based). The class-specific producer's accuracies ranged between 33% (European hornbeam) and 94% (European beech) and the user's accuracies between 57% (European hornbeam) and 92% (Lawson's cypress). The object-based approach outperformed the pixel-based approach. We could show that the 4 new WorldView-2 bands (Coastal, Yellow, Red Edge, and Near Infrared 2) have only limited impact on classification accuracy if only the 4 main tree species (Norway spruce, Scots pine, European beech, and English oak) are to be separated. However, classification accuracy increased significantly using the full spectral resolution if further tree species were included. Beside the impact on overall classification accuracy, the importance of the spectral bands was evaluated with two measures provided by RF. An in-depth analysis of the RF output was carried out to evaluate the impact of reference data quality and the resulting reliability of final class assignments. Finally, an extensive literature review on tree species classification comprising about 20 studies is presented.
This article presents an environmental remote sensing application using a UAV that is specifically aimed at reducing the data gap between field scale and satellite scale in soil erosion monitoring in Morocco. A fixed-wing aircraft type Sirius I (MAVinci, Germany) equipped with a digital system camera (Panasonic) is employed. UAV surveys are conducted over different study sites with varying extents and flying heights in order to provide both very high resolution site-specific data and lower-resolution overviews, thus fully exploiting the large potential of the chosen UAV for multi-scale mapping purposes. Depending on the scale and area coverage, two different approaches for georeferencing are used, based on high-precision GCPs or the UAV's log file with exterior orientation values respectively. The photogrammetric image processing enables the creation of Digital Terrain Models (DTMs) and ortho-image mosaics with very high resolution on a sub-decimetre level. The created data products were used for quantifying gully and badland erosion in 2D and 3D as well as for the analysis of the surrounding areas and landscape development for larger extents.
Using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) as remote sensing platforms offers the unique ability for repeated deployment for acquisition of high temporal resolution data at very high spatial resolution. Multispectral remote sensing applications from UAS are reported in the literature less commonly than applications using visible bands, although light-weight multispectral sensors for UAS are being used increasingly. . In this paper, we describe challenges and solutions associated with efficient processing of multispectral imagery to obtain orthorectified, radiometrically calibrated image mosaics for the purpose of rangeland vegetation classification. We developed automated batch processing methods for file conversion, band-to-band registration, radiometric correction, and orthorectification. An object-based image analysis approach was used to derive a species-level vegetation classification for the image mosaic with an overall accuracy of 87%. We obtained good correlations between: (1) ground and airborne spectral reflectance (R2 = 0.92); and (2) spectral reflectance derived from airborne and WorldView-2 satellite data for selected vegetation and soil targets. UAS-acquired multispectral imagery provides quality high resolution information for rangeland applications with the potential for upscaling the data to larger areas using high resolution satellite imagery.
This study's overarching aim is to establish the areal extent and characteristics of the rapid sugarcane expansion and land use change in Sao Paulo state (Brazil) as a result of an increase in the demand for ethanol, using Landsat type remotely sensed data. In 2003 flex fuel automobiles started to enter the Brazilian consumer market causing a dramatic expansion of sugarcane areas from 2.57 million ha in 2003 to 4.45 million ha in 2008. Almost all the land use change, for the sugarcane expansion of crop year 2008/09, occurred on pasture and annual crop land, being equally distributed on each. It was also observed that during the 2008 harvest season, the burned sugarcane area was reduced to 50% of the total harvested area in response to a protocol that aims to cease sugarcane straw burning practice by 2014 for mechanized areas. This study indicates that remote sensing images have efficiently evaluated important characteristics of the sugarcane cultivation dynamic providing quantitative results that are relevant to the debate of sustainable ethanol production from sugarcane in Brazil.
Payload size and weight are critical factors for small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Digital color-infrared photographs were acquired from a single 12-megapixel camera that did not have an internal hot-mirror filter and had a red-light-blocking filter in front of the lens, resulting in near-infrared (NIR), green and blue images. We tested the UAV-camera system over two variably-fertilized fields of winter wheat and found a good correlation between leaf area index and the green normalized difference vegetation index (GNDVI). The low cost and very-high spatial resolution associated with the camera-UAV system may provide important information for site-specific agriculture.
Global land cover is one of the essential terrestrial baseline datasets available for ecosystem modeling, however uncertainty remains an issue. Tools such as Google Earth offer enormous potential for land cover validation. With an ever increasing amount of very fine spatial resolution images (up to 50 cm x 50 cm) available on Google Earth, it is becoming possible for every Internet user (including non remote sensing experts) to distinguish land cover features with a high degree of reliability. Such an approach is inexpensive and allows Internet users from any region of the world to get involved in this global validation exercise. The Geo-Wiki Project is a global network of volunteers who wish to help improve the quality of global land cover maps. Since large differences occur between existing global land cover maps, current ecosystem and land-use science lacks crucial accurate data (e.g., to determine the potential of additional agricultural land available to grow crops in Africa), volunteers are asked to review hotspot maps of global land cover disagreement and determine, based on what they actually see in Google Earth and their local knowledge, if the land cover maps are correct or incorrect. Their input is recorded in a database, along with uploaded photos, to be used in the future for the creation of a new and improved hybrid global land cover map.
Remote sensing has become the most important data source for the digital elevation model (DEM) generation. DEM analyses can be applied in various fields and many of them require appropriate DEM visualization support. Analytical hill-shading is the most frequently used relief visualization technique. Although widely accepted, this method has two major drawbacks: identifying details in deep shades and inability to properly represent linear features lying parallel to the light beam. Several authors have tried to overcome these limitations by changing the position of the light source or by filtering. This paper proposes a new relief visualization technique based on diffuse, rather than direct, illumination. It utilizes the sky-view factor-a parameter corresponding to the portion of visible sky limited by relief. Sky-view factor can be used as a general relief visualization technique to show relief characteristics. In particular, we show that this visualization is a very useful tool in archaeology as it improves the recognition of small scale features from high resolution DEMs.
The intensity information from terrestrial laser scanners (TLS) has become an important object of study in recent years, and there are an increasing number of applications that would benefit from the addition of calibrated intensity data to the topographic information. In this paper, we study the range and incidence angle effects on the intensity measurements and search for practical correction methods for different TLS instruments and targets. We find that the range (distance) effect is strongly dominated by instrumental factors, whereas the incidence angle effect is mainly caused by the target surface properties. Correction for both effects is possible, but more studies are needed for physical interpretation and more efficient use of intensity data for target characterization.