The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLIII-B1-2021
28 Jun 2021
 | 28 Jun 2021


M. P. Bouloukou, A. Masiero, A. Vettore, and V. Gikas

Keywords: UAV, UWB, Positioning, EKF, GNSS-denied environments

Abstract. Nowadays, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles represent a very popular tool used in dramatically wide range of applications: indeed, their high flexibility, ease of use, and in certain cases quite affordable price make them a very attractive solutions in a number of applications, including surveying and mapping. Despite such a wide range of uses, their usage in automatic/autonomous mode is still restricted by the requirement of the availability of a reliable positioning and navigation system, which in practically all the commercial solutions is represented by the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). Unfortunately, the availability and reliability of GNSS cannot be ensured in all the working conditions of interest. In particular, such condition may not hold downtown, close to high buildings. Since this can also be an operative condition of wide interest, this paper aims at investigating the use of an alternative positioning method that can be integrated with GNSS in order to compensate its unavailability. To be more specific, this paper investigates the positioning performance of an Ultra Wide-Band (UWB) system when an UWB rover is attached to a drone flying close to a building facade, whereas a set of UWB anchors are on the ground, close to the facade. The results obtained in the case study of a building of the University of Padua show that the UWB system positioning performance is quite good (quite less than 1 meter error for most of the time) up to approximately 15–20 meters of distance from the anchors. Close to the top of the building the error significantly increases when using an Extended Kalman filter (EKF) positioning approach, probably mostly due to the low UWB measurement success rate at such heights and to the poor geometric configuration of the UWB network. Nevertheless, a Gauss-Newton-based positioning strategy outperforms the EKF in such critical case, still ensuring errors at 1 meter level.