TOWARDS MORE EFFICIENT UAS DATA ACQUISITION: CAMERA AUTO MOUNT PIVOTING OBLIQUE SURVEY
Keywords: Aerial Surveying, Oblique Images, Remote Sensing, Photogrammetry, UAS, Flight Planning, Gimbaled Camera
Abstract. In this paper I present a new MAVLink command, enabling oblique aerial surveys, along with its implementation on the major open source flight stacks (PX4 and ArduPilot) and ground control station (QGroundControl). A key advantage of this approach is that it enables vehicles with a typical gimbaled camera to capture oblique photos in the same pass as nadir photos, without the need for heavier and more expensive alternatives that feature multiple cameras, at fixed angles in a rigid mount, thus are unsuitable for lightweight platforms. It also allows for flexibility in the configuration of the camera angles. The principle is quite simple, the command combines camera triggering with mount actuation in a synchronized cycle along the flight traverses through the region of interest. Oblique photos have also been shown to increase the accuracy of data and help filling holes in point clouds and related outputs of surveys with vertical components. To provide evidence of its benefits, I compare the results of several missions, in simulated and field experiments, flown with nadir only surveys versus oblique surveys, and different camera configurations. In both cases, ground control and check points were used to evaluate the accuracy of the surveys. The field experiments show the vehicle had to fly 44% less with the oblique survey to cover the same area as the nadir survey, which could translate in a 80% gain in efficiency in coverage area per flight. Furthermore, this new command is capable of enhancing functionality of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) without any additional hardware, therefore its adoption should be straightforward.