Apr 04 2012

Hexakopter Flying and Testing the GoPro

Stephen and I practed flying the hexakoptors.  We were able to fly Roflkopter (one of the hexakopters) from the lab to the library, over the library and adjacent garage, and land on a 2ft by 2ft board.  In addition to the lirary expedition, we also practiced maneuvering the hexakopters, landing on a target, and getting them flying at the correct altitude.  Furthermore, we used the GoPro camera to capture video and pictures of the flights.  (The camera was mounted on the hexakopter.)  Unfortunately, the pictures had a lot of compression (as can be seen by the picture to the left that was taken in the lab).  Next week we will be testing to see if adjusting the setting will yield better images.

Below is a link to a video from the GoPro as we flew through Academic Row.  The first half of the video is with the distortion and the second half is the cleaned-up version.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtPkQShCR8c&context=C451b577ADvjVQa1PpcFNA2j44Y1Kwcn_6Rdo149XVXfaZn7cl70E=

 

 

Feb 01 2012

Ballon Aerial Photography, GoPro's and Photoscan


I stumbled on the website of a researcher Paul Illsley from Nova Scotia that works on remote sensing and has a hobby of photography.  He has a nice website description of a balloon aerial photography system and techniques for working with different cameras, including a GoPro Hero.  The picture at left shows a model he generated in Photoscan from a balloon survey of a building.  He suggests a technique for removing the GoPro lens distortion that I will definitely have to try out.

Photo source: http://www.paulillsley.com/airphoto/systems/B.jpg

Nov 01 2011

Personal remote sensing goes live: Mapping with Ardupilot

Folks all over are waking up to the fact that remote sensing is now something you really should try at home!  Today DIYDrones published a fine example of homebrew 3D mapping using an RC plane, a regular camera, and a computer vision software: hypr3d (one I’ve never heard of).  Hello Jonathan!

 

PS: I’d be glad to pay for a 3D print of our best Ecosynth- hypr3D can do it, so can landprint.com

Oct 25 2011

A new contender: GoPro launches HD Hero2

This camera looks like it might be a great new camera to try in aerial and ground ecosynth work (note: 2 11 MP photos per second):

GoPro launches HD Hero2 helmet cam, announces video streaming Wi-Fi pack for winter

List of HD HERO2 Feature Enhancements:
• Professional 11MP Sensor
• 2x Faster Image Processor
• 2X Sharper Glass Lens
• Professional Low Light Performance
• Full 170º, Medium 127º, Narrow 90º FOV in 1080p and 720p Video
• 120 fps WVGA, 60 fps 720p, 48 fps 960p, 30 fps 1080p Video
• Full 170º and Medium 127º FOV Photos
• 10 11MP Photos Per Second Burst
• 1 11MP Photo Every 0.5 Sec Timelapse Mode
• 3.5mm External Stereo Microphone Input
• Simple Language-based User Interface
• Compatible with Wi-Fi BacPac™ and Wi-Fi Remote™
- Long Range Remote Control of up to 50 GoPro Cameras per Wifi Remote
- Wi-Fi Video/Photo Preview, Playback and Control via GoPro App
- Live Streaming Video and Photos to the Web

Oct 18 2011

Gatewing UAV Mapping Awarded 'Most Disruptive Innovator'

The Gatewing UAV mapping company was recently acknowledged as the 'Most Disruptive Innovator' at the 2011 Intergeo conference in Germany.  Gatewing sells very high-end solutions for automated RC aircraft mapping with digital cameras, automatically generating orthophotos and DSMs at high resolution.  While the software is proprietary, I have no doubt that it is grounded in both photogrammetry and computer vision.

I have to agree with the award, it is given out "for the innovative application of existing technologies that will cause a significant shift in the market." (Gatewing email, 10/18/2011).  I think that the Ecosynth computer vision approach to ecological remote sensing also represents a disruptive new technology for the research community along those same lines.  Ecosynth is an application of existing technologies that will allow individual ecologists the ability to make very high-quality 3D color scans of landscape vegetation.  The Ecosynth approach means that field researchers can make useful and accurate measurements of study sites using remote sensing, without the need for fixed wing aircraft fly-overs, at relatively low cost, and without being remote sensing experts.  

Now, if only I had realized that the Gatewing office is in Ghent during my family trip in Belgium earlier in the month, 'D'oh!'

Oct 14 2011

Mikrokopter and Computer Vision/Photogrammetry used for Landslide Modeling

Researchers at the Universität Stuttgart, Institute for Geophysics in Stuttgart Germany, have used manually flown Mikrokopters and semi-automated photogrammetric software to generate high resolution photo mosaics and digital terrain models of a landslide area for tracking terrain displacement.  

An article published this spring in the journal Engineering Geology demonstrated the value of using remote controlled aircraft and off-the-shelf digital cameras for high resolution digtial terrain modeling.  The researchers used photogrammetry and computer vision software VMS to make 3D terrain models with aerial images and compared the results to aerial LIDAR and TLS terrain models.  A network of ~200 GPS measured ground control points were used to assist with image registration and model accuracy with good results.

The authors appear to agree with our sentiments that RC based aerial photography and 3D scanning has the benefits of low-cost and repeatability compared to traditional fixed wing or satellite based data collections.

Unlike our research, the authors of this study were interested in only the digital terrain model (DTM) and vegetation was considered noise to be removed for more accurate surface modelling.

Again...just one more reason for me to get cranking on that next paper!

Image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Super_sauze_landslide.JPG

Aug 18 2011

Cheapest RC Helicopter Video Ever! (with crash)

image_thumbNothing like an RC helicopter ($42) and lightweight video camera ($50) to make some fun on vacation!

Yes, this video lasts only a few seconds and ends with a crash- but… we are still good to go- maybe we’ll even make a great video after a few more tries.

Here’s the first:

Cheapest RC video ever?
Jul 29 2011

Introducing "Vanga"

I work for REBIOMA - a joint project of UC Berkeley's Kremen Lab and the Wildlife Conservation Society, Madagascar. We develop and apply spatial tools for biodiversity conservation in Madagascar. For example, we work with a wide array of individuals and institutions to publish high-quality biodiversity occurrence data and species distribution models on our data portal - work that has helped to identify 4 million hectares of new protected areas.

Last week, I visited the Ecosynth team to build and practice flying what we're calling "Vanga" - a Hexacopter that we will take to Madagascar in late 2011 to map forest cover and forest disturbance in the Makira and Masoala protected areas. 

We're excited about the potential for low-cost, high-frequency forest monitoring in two and three dimensions. We will start by testing the capacity of the system for producing high-resolution 2D ortho-mosaics of selected field sites. We also hope to explore the 3D modeling capabilities - this has real potential for contributing to ongoing biomass measurements, and contributing to forest carbon inventories. Finally, we plan to evaluate the potential of this system as a tool to help communities adjacent to protected areas measure and monitor their forest resources.

Apr 07 2011

Drone photos: Fukushima Dai-ichi Aerials

Pictures speak for themselves: “On March 24, 2011, a small unmanned drone flew over and photographed the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, giving a bird's eye view of the damage.”   http://photos.oregonlive.com/photo-essay/2011/03/fukushima_dai-ichi_aerials.html