The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLVIII-1/W1-2023
25 May 2023
 | 25 May 2023


R. Tamimi and C. Toth

Keywords: photogrammetry, GNSS, post-processed kinematic, point cloud, surveying

Abstract. Utilizing ground control points (GCPs) to georeference photogrammetry-based point cloud data is a common practice in unmanned aerial system (UAS) mapping. Direct georeferencing or integrated sensor orientation (ISO) can be used to obtain georeferenced point clouds from UAS without relying heavily on GCPs. However, the accuracy of the point cloud may be impacted by the accuracy of the trajectory solution obtained by GNSS. To improve point cloud accuracy, post-processing kinematic (PPK) solutions can be applied to the UAS trajectory, which may provide higher accuracy than low-accuracy trajectory solutions and minimize the reliance on GCPs. This study compares the accuracy and precision of two different point clouds generated using different methods. One point cloud was generated using traditional photogrammetric methods with low accuracy Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) observations from the UAS and GCPs that have an average accuracy of one to two centimeters, while the other was generated using PPK trajectory solution for the UAS’s trajectory with two software: open-source Emlid Studio and the widely used Inertial Explorer. The use of PPK techniques in UAS mapping may have several potential benefits over traditional methods. By correcting the errors in the UAS's trajectory, a user may only need to depend on fewer ground control points, which can reduce the time and cost associated with fieldwork. This is particularly useful in areas that are difficult to access or have limited ground control point options, such as in urban or forested areas. To evaluate performance, a GNSS receiver is used to obtain measurements on checkpoints, which are used to assess the accuracies of the point clouds. In our experiments, the accuracy of the point clouds generated using PPK trajectory solution with high accuracy GCPs was found to be higher than those generated with low accuracy GNSS observations while aided with high accuracy ground control points. While the use of PPK with GCPs is generally expected to provide more accurate and reliable data than low-accuracy GNSS observations even after adjusting with GCPs, the number and distribution of GCPs can still significantly impact overall accuracy. Therefore, careful consideration of the number of GCPs and their placement is essential to achieve the desired level of efficiency and effectiveness in UAS mapping.