Utilizing Consumer sUAS for Urban Mapping - A case study for Auburn, AL

Authors: Austin Bush*, Auburn University, Stephanie Rogers*, Auburn University
Topics: Cartography, Remote Sensing, Urban Geography
Keywords: sUAS, Drones, Quadcopter, UAV, Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Urban Mapping
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Balcony M, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In contemporary research involving remote sensing and GIS, there is often an emphasis on using aerial data acquired via satellites or aircraft. LiDAR has been the relatively new and innovative approach to creating high resolution data sets, but Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) are beginning to serve as viable alternatives for aerial data collection. LiDAR tends to be a costly approach to generating point cloud data, whereas sUAS are rapidly becoming cheaper and more widely available. When faced with the problem of feasible affordability, researchers are sometimes left without the data they require to conduct their work. Recognizing this dilemma of real-world accessibility to high-resolution datasets, it brings to question, are consumer-grade sUAS viable research tools for urban aerial data collection? Due to regulatory barriers and public skepticism, the use of sUAS in urban locations presents unique challenges to researchers and commercial sUAS operators. To detail the operational procedures used in an urban setting, while also complying with all regulatory requirements, this project utilizes an urban property within the city of Auburn, Alabama to understand how viable urban mapping projects can be with a consumer-grade sUAS. For the selected study site, a DJI Phantom 4 Pro is used to obtain several datasets of aerial images for an urban property. These images are then used in photogrammetry software to create various 2D and 3D geospatial data. This paper details the processes used and provides an assessment of the relative strengths and weaknesses of using this technology in an urban setting.

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