The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLIV-M-2-2020
17 Nov 2020
 | 17 Nov 2020


J. Sepulveda, J. Capps, K. Johnson, C. Parada, A. Garcia, and K. Sestak

Keywords: Photogrammetry, Subterranean Environments, Structure from Motion, Karst, Unity, Cave Conservation, Point Clouds

Abstract. LiDAR is a popular and accurate method for mapping that can be utilized for three-dimensional model analysis. However, the equipment set-up and usage can become tedious, and ultimately impractical when applied to locations that are remote and confined in nature. In this investigation, three-dimensional analysis was conducted within a cave system. With this, limitations of LiDAR technology in these conditions become prominent; mapping non-planar surfaces can cause a potential decrease of the quality of the point cloud data. In all, a LiDAR application would be an inefficient use of methodology to conduct this investigation. This prompted a need to set-up and conduct a photogrammetric based evaluation. With this, smartphone camera technology was used in conjunction with free-to-use software and three-dimensional modeling applications. Through the use of photogrammetric concepts and structure from motion software, a three-dimensional model of the cave can be generated. Long term, this model can also be utilized to document the impact and health of the cave system. For the methodology, the on-sight portion of the investigation relied heavily on smartphone camera technology. The procedure draws parallels to drone paths; specifically, two flight-plans were developed to evaluate different perspectives within a 15 by 15 meter space in the cave. Within each flight path, the use of photo overlapping techniques established a denser and more fluid point cloud model. Once the data was processed, two different three-dimensional models of the cave were created. From those models, the point cloud data was extracted in order to merge the two separate models. Afterwards, the models underwent several format conversions in order to import it into the Unity game engine. The final result is an accurate three-dimensional model of the cave that is viewable and playable in a simple video game platform.