Background: I am working on low-cost raspberry pi based camera system to integrate it on drones as an external module. So, I am using Pi camera and UBLOX Low cost GPS receiver which logs data in CSV file.

So, is this data sufficient to generate orthomosaic for using in GIS applications?

Also, Does the system need IMU data for orthomosaic generation? If no, What is the use of orientation x/y/z or roll/pitch/yaw in photogrammetry?

3 Answers 3


Broadly speaking, you don't absolutely need camera orientation or GPS data. The algorithms can in principle fit the best possible imputed UAV location in 3D space plus the camera orientation for each image while fitting the best possible 3D model of the surface, generating orthophotos and a DEM as a byproduct. This is similar, but in 3D, like panorama stitchers (including Microsoft ICE mentioned in another answers) glue together 2D images without a priori info about their relative placement.

UAV GPS coordinates, alone or with camera orientation info, can provide valuable information to the 3D stitching process. Some implementations actively use all of that information, others priarily use it just to georeference the resulting output. I would expect all such additional information will increase the speed and accuracy of the 3D model creation, and in particular the amount of noise/distortion/motion/lighting change the feature fitting process can handle without giving up, though I haven't seen empirical discussion of that.

There is significant imprecision (and inaccuracy) in non-RTK/PPK GPS data, plus lens distortion in individual images, together making it impossible to rely on recorded GPS and camera orientation data for each image alone and get a "perfect match". A degree of image data fitting (finding overlapping features) is always needed as a correction. So it's a question of degree rather than absolutes.

For an example of how this can be approached, see the workflows offered by MapsMadeEasy. Their DJI workflow uses DJI-specific camera orientation EXIF tags as well as GPS UAV location tags. Their "classic" workflow does not require or use the camera orientation tags. And their "flat map" workflow uses GPS and camera orientation tags but does not do feature matching/image data fitting, just trusts the tags.

If you have access to a DJI drone in particular, you could try a test run with these 3 worksflows of the environment you want your homebrew system to handle, plus the AgiSoft workflow you found, to compare.

Finally, to your question of "what's the use of ... in photogrammetry", taking aside the issue of stitching multiple photos together, my question and answer here deals with the math how those specific variables translate into georeferencing a single image.


The IMU will get the image positioned on the earth correctly. The image needs to be geo-referenced to be useful in mapping. If you just want the images stitched you can use Microsoft's Image Composite Editor or some other stitching software.

Hopefully some useful info-


  • Thank you for sharing the link. Does it mean that I need to get the IMU sensor data for generating orthomosaic or will the GPS coordinate only work? Aug 17, 2020 at 16:22
  • What software are you using for the orthomosaic generation? If it is Pix4D you should have embedded in the image. support.pix4d.com/hc/en-us/articles/…
    – Cary H
    Aug 17, 2020 at 19:34
  • I am using Agisoft. But I am curious if i can get the result using open source stacks, eg. by coding etc. Aug 18, 2020 at 11:45
  • 2
    Yes - It is being done by several people with code. ODM - opendronemap.org has an SDK that is a good start. If you are a Python coder you and add to the EXIF GPS metadata to the image with exif. pypi.org/project/exif
    – Cary H
    Aug 21, 2020 at 20:03
  • I'll check ODM. Thank you. Aug 23, 2020 at 4:03

So, With my research, there are softwares like Agisoft Photoscan which doesn't need any External Orientation ( EO ) parameter of camera and IMU/GPS data for 3D dense point cloud reconstruction. To georeference the model later, its possible to add coordinates to the images. If we use the image coordinates from GPS, it can be used to generate a properly georeferenced model. The georeferenced 3D mesh can be used to generate DEM and Orthomosaic. This is accomplished with algorithms of Computer Vision Technique. IMU data, of course, increases the accuracy of georeferenced model and hence, DEM and Orthomosaic. But also, the accuracy of georeferencing can be improved through RTK approach.

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