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I have a an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV, also called a drone) and would like to use it to create a digital elevation model and orthomosaic over a smaller area (10 km2). My platform will be able to produce overlapping imagery with an altitude of around 120 meters (400 feet).

I have looked into several alternatives. Here are some:

Both of the above are commercial options and seem to offer many features and high quality.

I am also looking for solutions where I can have more control of the process and possibly also set up my own batching processing. Python and other open source tools are interesting.

What are my alternatives?

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What type of UAV are you working with? What type of sensor? –  Aaron Jul 4 '13 at 12:30
    
3d Robotics Quadcopter with a Canon SX260 camera. –  ragnvald Jun 9 at 9:26

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

VisualSFM in combination with CSVS might be a way to go. On the [project website] for Visual SFM 1 the author Changchang Wu explains:

VisualSFM is a GUI application for 3D reconstruction using structure from motion (SFM). The reconstruction system integrates several of my previous projects: SIFT on GPU(SiftGPU), Multicore Bundle Adjustment, and Towards Linear-time Incremental Structure from Motion. In particular, both the GUI SfM system and SiftGPU started as course projects when I was at UNC. VisualSFM runs very fast by exploiting multicore parallelism in feature detection, feature matching, and bundle adjustment.

A youtube movie from www.flightriot.com gives a practical example of potential endpoint products. I have not tried this myself, but will hopefully be able to refine this answer later.

I have also tried using pix4D. It is an overall good tool providing exceptional ease of use for inexperienced to more experienced users. A youtube video introduces the software in a good way.

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I highly recommend Agisoft PhotoScan Pro. It costs about $3500, but they have an academic version for about $500. If you contact them they can set you up with a 30 day trial. It has a lot of options and export formats and is quite easy to pick up and get good results. They also have options for python scripting.

http://www.agisoft.ru/

Another opensource option is the python photogrammetry toolbox. It takes a little work to set up but gives good results for 3D output, nothing for georegistration though.

Hope this helps!!! (even though I am a couple months late to the party)

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