Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Geographic Data Capture: A Review

University essay from KTH/Geodesi och satellitpositionering; KTH/Geodesi och satellitpositionering

Abstract: In GIS-projects the data capture is one of the most time consuming processes. Both how to collect the data and the quality of the collected data is of high importance. Common methods for data capture are GPS, LiDAR, Total Station and Aerial Photogrammetry. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, UAVs, have become more common in recent years and the number of applications continues to increase. As the technique develops there are more ways that UAV technique can be used for collection of geographic data. One of these techniques is the UAV photogrammetry that entails using an UAV equipped with a camera combined with photogrammetric software in order to create three dimensional models and orthophotos of the ground surface. This thesis contains a comparison between different geographic data capture methods such as terrestrial and aerial methods as well as UAV photogrammetry. The aim is to investigate how UAVs are used to collect geographic data today as well how the techniques involving UAVs can replace or be used as a complement to traditional methods. This study is based on a literature study and interviews. The literature study aims to give a deeper insight in where and how UAVs are used today for geographic data capturing with focus on three main areas: environmental monitoring, urban environment and infrastructure, and natural resources. Regarding the interviews companies and other participants using UAVs for geographic data collection in Sweden have been interviewed to get an accurate overview of the current status regarding the use of UAVs in Sweden. Advantages, disadvantages, limitations, economical aspects, accuracy and possible future use or development are considered as well as different areas of applications. The study is done in collaboration with the geographic IT company Digpro Solutions AB. The goal is to be able to present suggestions of how UAV data can be applied in Digpros applications. Information from the literature study and the interviews show that using a UAV makes it possible to cover a large range between terrestrial and aerial methods, and that it can replace or complement other methods for surveying and data collection. The use gives the possibility to get close to the object without being settle to the ground, as well as work environment profits since dangerous, difficult areas can be accessed from distance. The data can be collected faster, quicker, cheaper and more frequent. Time savings occurs in the measurement stage but compared to terrestrial methods more time is required for the post-processing of the data. The use in Sweden is limited due to difficulties linked to Swedish legislation regarding camera surveillance, as well as long waiting times for the permissions that is required to fly. However, a change in the camera surveillance law is expected which means that UAVs will be excluded from the law. That may result in great benefits for everyone within the industry as well as a continued development of the technique and the use of UAVs.

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