Map making with drone technology

Greetings all,

Maybe you can point me in the right direction...? I've had the seemingly brilliant idea of utilizing a Drone to assist me in my "land use management practices". I say "seemingly brilliant" in a slightly cynical manner as I know I'm a bit late to the game on this. But I think this might be a good way to save time and money.

I'm looking for a way to send a Drone into open land and take pictures of the ground whereupon I can analyze the data to find such things as human trails, animal trails, plant species - native and non-native, hydrological features, topography etc...Land use stuff.
Do you guys know if there is a camera/GPS type system that can be attached to a drone that can take such pics and then in turn is there a relatively inexpensive software that can be used to convert these images into maps on the home PC?

I'd be super appreciated if anyone can shed some light on this for me.

I've a Geographic inclination and a Geography education, but this is all new to me...I'd like to learn.

1. Hardware needed

2. Computer needed

3. Map-making software needed

4. Device needed

any thoughts?

NatGeo

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Replies

  • I second this recommendation. Get a license for ArcGIS and you can open a free ESRI account and find a tutorial in their forums. I have manually georeferenced imagery many times. I would recommend downloading imagery from USGS website and overlaying your imagery to a map projection that will work for your intended purpose. You can reference your new imagery to several points, however be careful because your centimeter resolution imagery will exceed USGS resolutions. Its doubtful you'll need that level of accuracy anyway considering the gps error margin of a moving UAV and other variables.
  • Hello Guys!

    Can you please share the procedure for deriving NDVI indexes with QGIS from a geo-referenced image?

    The latter is derived with PhotoScan Pro from an image set taken with

    http://www.dji.com/product/spreading-wings-s800

    thanks, Mitko

  • Hello NatGeo,

    for the software part, I advise you PhotoScan that allow you to assemble your photos (3500$). For digital processing of your orthos, it's not worth using arcgis (the GIS rolls royce!) Qgis is enough to deal with multispectral datas. I love its free "raster calculator" function which lets you mix the RGB and NIR datas (what you want to do isn't it?).

    Personally, I did change a NEX5 to capture near infrared and I easily make map of plant activity (NDVI) with QGIS (PhotoScan for assembly.. Of course). You can see some results with the attached picture (NDVI Troyes area: champagne country!)

    For computer resources, I recommend a minimum of 64GB RAM If you decide to use PhotoScan.

    Good luck!3692834349?profile=original

  • NatGeo,

    If you want to map maps and digitize the features you mentioned, there are a few good solutions. There are open source GIS solutions like Quantam and GRASS but I prefer ArcGIS (it's what I was trained in). You can get a home license for ArcGIS for $100/yr. You can the stitched or mosaiced imagery and georeference it in ArcGIS to digitize features and analyze topography (given elevation is going to be a digital surface and not ground model - look up DSM vs DEM).

  • Hi NatGeo, I agree with Martin - this is a great place to start. There are quite a few very exciting projects going and a lot, I mean a lot of ground have been covered towards your goal. I can try and point you in the right direction - but there is a wealth of knowledge here - just dig and you will find what you need. OK - here is my 5c:

    1. Your hardware requirements. An airframe used by many for mapping missions is the Skywalker X8 wing. It is a 2m wing with a huge carrying capacity. She is easy to kit out and reinforce. Inside your aircraft you will need a electric motor, a speed controller (known as an ESC) a battery pack, servos to control the control surfaces and a receiver. To fly missions you will need to add an autopilot(like ArduPlane), telemetry(data radio link with the base station - not essential) and good bladder control.

    2. You'll need your laptop with Mission Planner in the field to program you mapping mission. You can do most of your prep in the office with this app(brilliant opensource app). Your processing PC should at least be an i5 - i7 better. The adjustment matrices are managed in RAM - I run 8GB RAM on my i5 and around 280 pics processes in 6 hours.

    3. There are many 'map-making' packages out there. I've used Photo Modeler with good results. It also depends on what you want to achieve. If you want to merge the pics into a big layout you can use MS ICE. There is not much intelligence in the pic, but is basically a photo map(Not to scale....distorted). If you need more intelligent results, understanding the fundamentals of photogrammetry will be hugely beneficial. There need to be sufficient overlaps on the pics to have any point observed from at least 2 positions to make it calculate able in 3D space. This depends on you camera ect. Oh, talking about camera - many guys use the Canon family of cameras. The reason being that you can load a little app on the basic Canon (called the CHDK). It adds a whole whack of functionality only found in higher end cameras - you'll be interested in the intervalometer. I know some guys rig up their cameras to be triggered from the autopilot.

    4. The best intersection of price and functionality - IMHO - is APM. I've seen this project mature over the last few years. There are not many missions that this project can not handle.

     

    I use 2 big H quads to fly photo missions over my construction sites(On off days - I do not fly what there are people around). I have a flight time of around 15 to 17 minutes, but plan my mission to be no longer than 10minutes. This gives me a range of around 1km at 2.5 to 3m/s(considering a bit of wind and manoeuvring). I have my Canon exposure set to 0seconds. This gives me an exposure every 4 to 6 seconds(time to store the pic on the SD card) at no higher than 30m altitude. My camera is mounted on silicon foam to try and kerb some of the vibration effect. I do not cover large areas, but I have very good overlap and point cloud accuracy.

     

    Keep in mind that both the project's software you'll be using are opensource. These guys develop this in their own time with only the results as reward.

    Good luck,

    Antonie

  • Sir, 

    You are in the right place. Within the forums you can look up remote sensing, aerial mapping etc. I am working on an X5 drone with a Canon camera to for mapping large tracts of lands. I would start looking at what air frame you want and then you can start deciding on flight time area coverage etc. As far as software/hardware it appears that a decent PC will get you on your way for programming flights etc. I am working on my GEOINT Graduate Certificate so I have a years worth of ArcGIS to play with but there are many options out there. Just start looking and you will find lots of intel out there. 

    Martin 

    Texas

    Martin 

This reply was deleted.

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