Simplifying UAV-Based Photogrammetry in Forestry: How to Generate Accurate Digital Terrain Model and Assess Flight Mission Settings

Authors: Facundo Pessacg, Francisco Gómez-Fernández, Matías Nitsche, Nicolás Chamo, Sebastián Torrella, Rubén Ginzburg and Pablo De Cristóforis.

In forestry, aerial photogrammetry by means of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) could bridge the gap between detailed fieldwork and broad-range satellite imagery-based analysis. However, optical sensors are only poorly capable of penetrating the tree canopy, causing raw image-based point clouds unable to reliably collect and classify ground points in woodlands, which is essential for further data processing. In this work, we propose a novel method to overcome this issue and generate accurate a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) in forested environments by processing the point cloud. We also developed a highly realistic custom simulator that allows controlled experimentation with repeatability guaranteed. With this tool, we performed an exhaustive evaluation of the survey and sensor settings and their impact on the 3D reconstruction. Overall, we found that a high frontal overlap (95%), a nadir camera angle (90°), and low flight altitudes (less than 100 m) results in the best configuration for forest environments. We validated the presented method for DTM generation in a simulated and real-world survey missions with both fixed-wing and multicopter UAS, showing how the problem of structural forest parameters estimation can be better addressed. Finally, we applied our method for automatic detection of selective logging.

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2022-07-11T10:56:38-03:00 11/julio/2022|Papers|
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