We have moved! Please visit us at ANTHROECOLOGY.ORG. This website is for archival purposes only.


Apr 11 2012

Herbert Run West Surveying & Keystone Rental -- Updates

Saturday April 7th, Shelby and I went out to Herbert Run to stake out some more points on the western portion. We were able to get seven points that are all in the area pictured on the left. A lot of this area was really difficult to get because of the amount of brush that was online but we were able to get them all from a one of the new points that Will had RTK GPS located.

I went to Keystone Precision this morning to ask about renting data collectors, it turns out that they do rent out data collectors and they also give out software packages for them. The rates seem fairly inexpensive at $42.50/day, but they do not rent out prisms. I explained our situation and the sales representative generously said they would let us borrow a prism if we rented the data collector.

The data collectors are called the Ranger, which has a software package called Survey Controller and the TSC2  which has a software package called Survey Pro.

They also had an option to rent an entire total station plus rod set up for $120/day.

The representative at Keystone said that if I were to talk to Brian Wagaman I would be able to have a lot of my questions, (such as information pertaining to the stake out options of the data collector ) , answered.  I vaguely remember the survey company that I used to work for, Landesign Inc, were really big fans of Brian Wagaman’s help with total station questions and data collector trouble shooting issues, he is really approachable.

I believe this is the best way to proceed and hopefully we can rent the data collector and software for this weekend so that I can finish Herbert Run and the Knoll. I can call Brian tomorrow about the data collector rental and hash out the issues with him.

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 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 17 2011

Kinect for ArcGlobe

Yet another reason to get a Kinect - we can get more exercise while using ArcGIS !

According to this blog post- we can use a Kinect to navigate ArcGlobe:

The Applications Prototype Lab atEsri has just completed a prototype using a Kinect to navigate in ArcGlobe.

To fly forward, the user can raise their right hand. The display will navigate in the direct the right hand is pointing. We call this “superman navigation”. If the left hand is elevated, the display will pivot around a central location on the globe surface. And lastly, if both hands are raised, the screen will zoom in or out as the hands are both together or apart.

http://blogs.esri.com/Dev/blogs/apl/archive/2011/08/10/Kinect-for-ArcGlobe.aspx

Shall we get one?

Apr 14 2011

Computer vision beats Kinect?

“Just when you thought Kinect had the body tracking problem all sewn up, another approach promises to be cheaper and implementable using nothing but software and standard video cameras. The good news is that the software is open source, download-able and ready to go.”

http://www.i-programmer.info/news/105-artificial-intelligence/2310-predator-better-than-kinect.html

Apr 10 2011

Visualizing point clouds in your browser

Check out 3DTubeMe.com to see some of the latest in web based 3D visualizations.  I was directed to a post on Slashdot about the website by a professor and am totally thrilled about what this could mean for visualizing or own 3D point cloud data.  Currently you need to login and add this as an app through Facebook to upload and view, but the website authors say they are going to get rid of this feature soon.  I uploaded a small set of photos for processing, but was notified that my camera was not in their database and to wait to hear back about the processing of my cloud.  Maybe we could get this WebGL working to visualize our own point clouds? 

That’s all for now, back to the grind!

Apr 07 2011

Open Source Terrain Processing

I am very excited by the current prospects of incorporating free, open-source terrain processing algorithms into our workflow.  While we are ultimately interested in studying the trees in our 3D scans, it is necessary to automatically derive a digital terrain model (DTM) that represents the ground below the canopy for the purpose of estimating tree height.

A recent paper in the open-source journal Remote Sensing, describes several freely available algorithms for terrain processing.  I am in the process of converting the entire ArcGIS workflow we used in our first paper into an automated Python workflow, and am excited about the prospect of incorporating other open-source algorithms into the mix.  Currently, by working with Numpy in Python, my processing code takes a input Ecosynth point cloud and applies two levels of ‘global’ and ‘local’ statistical filtering to remove outlier and noise elevation points in about a minute for 500,000 points.  This had previously taken hours with ArcGIS, but by formatting the data into arrays, Numpy effortlessly screams through all the points in no time. 

I am going to focus on two pieces of software.  One is the Multiscale Curvature Classification algorithm (MCC-LIDAR) by Evans and Hudak, at sourceforge here, that was mentioned in the recent paper in Remote Sensing.  The other is the libLAS module for Python, included with OSGeo, that can be used to read and write to the industry standard LAS data format for working with LiDAR data. Fun, fun!  This of course if going on in the meantime while I try to get my proposal finished.

Refs: 

Dandois, J.P.; Ellis, E.C. Remote Sensing of Vegetation Structure Using Computer Vision. Remote Sens. 2010, 2, 1157-1176.

Tinkham, W.T.; Huang, H.; Smith, A.M.S.; Shrestha, R.; Falkowski, M.J.; Hudak, A.T.; Link, T.E.; Glenn, N.F.; Marks, D.G. A Comparison of Two Open Source LiDAR Surface Classification Algorithms. Remote Sens. 2011, 3, 638-649.

Feb 25 2011

Photoscan is awesome!

Agisoft’s Photoscansoftware is simply amazing!

The picture at left is an orthorectified photo mosaic over our Knoll research site on the UMBC campus generated by Photoscan automatically using only input photos that I took with the Hexakopter.  For reference, each Hexakopter photo covered less than a 10th of the area observed in this scene. 

An orthophoto is a photo that has been mathematically distorted based on the differences in elevation of the scene so that everything appears ‘flat’, or it appears that the camera was right above each point in the photo.

Photoscan uses similar computer vision technology that Bundler and Photosynth use to automatically recreate the 3D structure of a scene from only photos.

The professional version of the software also makes it very easy to georeference the scene to a geographic coordinate system, making it possible to easily view in a GIS software … or in Google Earth.

Here is a link to a Google Earth image file that Photoscan generated from our photo set, enjoy (35MB kmz file)! 

I am working on getting some 3D output to Google Earth next.

Jan 24 2011

From Wired UK: Kinect hack builds 3D maps of the real world

Wow!  This from http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2011-01/24/3d-kinect-map 

“Noted Kinect-tinkerer Martin Szarski has used a car, a laptop, an Android smartphone and the aforementioned Xbox 360 peripheral to make a DIY-equivalent of Google Street View….  All he needs to do is drive down his street, as the Kinect, laptop and Android team log a series of colour images, 3D point clouds and global positions into a collection of data points. Throw those into a custom-made program, and voila; you have a 3D model of your street, and its geo-tagged for easy placement on an map like Google Earth.”

It looks like we had better get a Kinect for the Lab!