3D Robotics

T3, Round 4: Map a quarter-kilometer!

Welcome to the Time Trust Trial contest, Round 4 (T3-4)! This round is an aerial imaging task. Here is your assignment: Program your UAV to take photos from an altitude of ~400 feet that you then stitch together to make a single image showing an area of 500mx500m (a quarter square kilometer). Somewhere in that image, a Santa (or replica of a Santa, poster of a Santa, just you wearing a Santa hat, etc) must be seen. NO PHOTOSHOP (ie, the sample above would be disqualified)--you actually need to bring something Santa-ish to the field so your UAV can capture it in its shots (yes, I know it will be very small. Just circle the location in your image so we can enlarge and inspect--don't make us do "Where's Wally"!) This is to prove that the shots aren't actually taken from Google Earth ;-) You can use any path strategy you want: "lawnmower", spiral, concentric circles, etc... For stitching software, I use the free PTGui, but you're welcome to use whatever software you prefer. And for your camera, may I suggest you hack up some cool way to trigger the shutter with our cool ServoSwitch? KML tracks must be provided. Video is not required, but is suggested. We've now switched to a six-week cycle, so the deadline is 12:00 midnight PST on Sunday, January 17, 2010 now Monday, January 18th due to the Martin Luther King holiday in the US. The overall winner will be the best quality image, as decided by the judges (based on a combination of resolution, stitch quality and overall coolness--a clever Santa will win you brownie points, and a pretty area is no bad thing [note: snow is lovely, but be warned that it can confuse stitching software]), but everyone who completes the challenge will win a prize. Enjoy!
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  • Ok, does someone has an example of a way to trigger the shutter with the mentioned servoswitch?

  • Here is a stitch produced with MS ICE, converted from TIFF to jpg and reduced to 8.5MB using ImageMagic. Interesting to see how PTGui and MS ICE treats elevation problems differently.

  • T3
    Mark, maybe you didn't posted the stitch? Only a single photo? Am I right?
  • Moderator
    Do I have to explain it in detail??
  • T3
    Why did I only get 2 points for my effort?
  • Moderator
    Nice one Sam thanks very much for sharing that, at least the next round will have a definitive, fastest time winner so will not seem so random.
  • Thanks for the link Sam,

    Looks like something strange happened to my excel-file, so a new attempt:
  • Brakar,

    Our router was down until a little while ago, hence no access.


    This software is available for the express permission of non-corporate, single-user environments and should be considered a Beta product and treated as such. We reserve the right to remove the download link at any time.I make no guarantees on the usability of this software, and all credit for the development of this software goes to JB Scoggins. It should work under windows xp 32 bit. All other windows flavors are not guaranteed to be usable, however, it should be ok under windows 7 32 bit.

    It would be greatly appreciated if you could forward feedback and bugs to samc99us AT yahoo DOT com.
  • Sam,

    Do you have a link to that flight planning software? I did a internet search, but was not able to find it.

    Btw, here is the excel-sheet I used to calculate my flight path, quite simple, but also easy to use: Photomission.xls (With EasyUAV a pattern of waypoints can be repeted any number of times, I repeated this 6 times if I remember correct).

  • I'm a little baffled by the scoring too...if you look at the post count to win ratio, I would say the scoring is crap!

    That aside, I still think this was a great competition. For the most part, this is very similar to the AUVSI Stundent UAS competition held annually in MD. That is a world renowned competition, and it's a testament to this site that a similar competition could be organized online.

    Couple of thoughts:

    1) We don't get snow this far south, so that was not an option and imo should not have been part of the scoring

    2) We are not limited to weight in the camera. We built the plane around the camera because we've done this for many years and know that is the limiting factor. We are running a Nikon D60 with a 18 mm VR lens set at infinite zoom. The photos shown here (namely, the high res ones you need to load into google earth) show that even at 300' the resolution and photos aren't sharp. For reference, a D50 has worked better for us in the past than this new D60. May be looking at a D90 for an upgrade if we cannot get the sharpness we want.

    3) For those doing auto-landings, flying lower and slower is a good way to improve resolution. We are dropping down to 200' for our next imagery run to get better resolution. We have software that builds our flight paths and computes our overlap. This is available to all for free on ncsu aerial robotics wiki (down atm). Of course, the problem is getting a wider angle lens on a point and shoot.

    4) We have the software to do orthorectification. It is slow, on top of the line machines (Core i5+8gb ram, macbook pro's etc.), especially with the high MP images everyone is taking. The easiest, cheapest solution for us was to build a two axis gimbal and drive it with the IMU in the autopilot. This gets us to within plus minus 5 degrees for pitch and roll. Thus, we try and take the important photos when the plane is flying straight and level.

    Once again, thanks for the competition and I'm glad to see stiff competition from the smaller teams.
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