New generation of 3D maps from sUAS imagery

melown

Earlier this year Melown Maps (melown.com/maps) showcased a software system for creating detailed 3D maps from imagery acquired by UAV systems.

The case study, available as an interactive presentation on the Melown Maps website (https://www.melown.com/maps/#krasiczyn_castle), is a 3D model of thirty-six hectare area surrounding Krasiczyn Castle in south-eastern Poland. The dataset for the model was acquired in May 2013 using Pteryx UAV, operated by Fotomapy LLC, a Poland-based sUAS company. The UAV with maximum TOW of 5kg carried a consumer grade compact camera and took a total of 541 nadir oriented images during two flights at 150m altitude, within mere 45 minutes. The resultant Melown Maps 3D model faithfully represents terrain, vegetation and man-made structures on site. The model is georeferenced with ground control points and seamlessly integrated with the surrounding terrain.

“This was a difficult area for purely optical scene reconstruction, with many trees and vertical objects, which took some serious research effort,” stated Krzysztof Bosak, Fotomapy’s founder. “The 3D fidelity of the result demonstrated by Melown Maps is unparalleled.”

“We see this as an important turning point for true 3D mapping with sUAS technology,” said Ondrej Prochazka, director and chief engineer of Melown Maps. “So far, 3D mapping using computer vision techniques has been a domain of large photomapping companies. Yet you don’t need high-end photogrammetric sensors and specialized manned aircraft to obtain an accurate and natural looking 3D map. In fact, there are many advantages to UAV based mapping: flexibility of acquisition, lower price tags and above all, better ground resolution. In the near future, there will be more 3D mapping done by sUAS operators than by traditional photomapping companies.”

As further work progresses with more case studies on datasets provided by the UAV community, Melown Maps is adapting its licensing model to accommodate to the needs of the sUAS market. “Photogrammetric solutions have traditionally been sold or licensed as software packages. While this is a good model for a large GIS company, we will take a different path for the UAV community,” said Ondrej Prochazka. “We shall provide 3D reconstructions as an all-inclusive service to anyone interested. The client provides a set of photos and we deliver the 3D map. Complex software systems come with a hidden cost: you need hardware, people and time to obtain results. We want to liberate our clients from this and allow them to stay focused on their business.”