EVALUATING UNMANNED AERIAL PLATFORMS FOR CULTURAL HERITAGE LARGE SCALE MAPPING
Keywords: UAS, large scale mapping, structure from motion, dense matching, orthophotos
Abstract. When it comes to large scale mapping of limited areas especially for cultural heritage sites, things become critical. Optical and non-optical sensors are developed to such sizes and weights that can be lifted by such platforms, like e.g. LiDAR units. At the same time there is an increase in emphasis on solutions that enable users to get access to 3D information faster and cheaper. Considering the multitude of platforms, cameras and the advancement of algorithms in conjunction with the increase of available computing power this challenge should and indeed is further investigated. In this paper a short review of the UAS technologies today is attempted. A discussion follows as to their applicability and advantages, depending on their specifications, which vary immensely. The on-board cameras available are also compared and evaluated for large scale mapping. Furthermore a thorough analysis, review and experimentation with different software implementations of Structure from Motion and Multiple View Stereo algorithms, able to process such dense and mostly unordered sequence of digital images is also conducted and presented. As test data set, we use a rich optical and thermal data set from both fixed wing and multi-rotor platforms over an archaeological excavation with adverse height variations and using different cameras. Dense 3D point clouds, digital terrain models and orthophotos have been produced and evaluated for their radiometric as well as metric qualities.