LOW-COST MAPPING OF FOREST UNDER-STOREY VEGETATION USING SPHERICAL PHOTOGRAMMETRY
Keywords: low-cost, forest, under-storey, photogrammetry, spherical, 360° images
Abstract. This paper is an attempt to respond to the growing need and demand of 3D data in forestry, especially for 3D mapping. The use of terrestrial laser scanners (TLS) dominates contemporary literature for under-storey vegetation mapping as this technique provides precise and easy-to-use solutions for users. However, TLS requires substantial investments in terms of device acquisition and user training. The search for and development of low-cost alternatives is therefore an interesting field of inquiry. Here, we use low-cost 360° cameras combined with spherical photogrammetric principles for under-storey vegetation mapping. While we fully assume that this low-cost approach will not generate results on par with either TLS or classical close-range photogrammetry, its main aim is to investigate whether this alternative is sufficient to meet the requirements of forest mapping. In this regard, geometric analyses were conducted using both TLS and close-range photogrammetry as comparison points. The diameter at breast height (DBH), a parameter commonly used in forestry, was then computed from the 360° point cloud using three different methods to determine if a similar order of precision to the two reference datasets can be obtained. The results show that 360° cameras were able to generate point clouds with a similar geometric quality as the references despite their low density, albeit with a significantly higher amount of noise. The effect of the noise is also evident in the DBH computation, where it yielded an average error of 3.5 cm compared to both the TLS and close-range photogrammetry.