Spatial information plays a critical role in remote sensing and mapping applications such as environment surveying and disaster monitoring. An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)-borne mobile mapping system (MMS) can accomplish rapid spatial information acquisition under limited sky conditions with better mobility and flexibility than other means. This study proposes a long endurance Direct Geo-referencing (DG)-based fixed-wing UAV photogrammetric platform and two DG modules that each use different commercial Micro-Electro Mechanical Systems’ (MEMS) tactical grade Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs). Furthermore, this study develops a novel kinematic calibration method which includes lever arms, boresight angles and camera shutter delay to improve positioning accuracy. The new calibration method is then compared with the traditional calibration approach. The results show that the accuracy of the DG can be significantly improved by flying at a lower altitude using the new higher specification hardware. The new proposed method improves the accuracy of DG by about 20%. The preliminary results show that two-dimensional (2D) horizontal DG positioning accuracy is around 5.8 m at a flight height of 300 m using the newly designed tactical grade integrated Positioning and Orientation System (POS). The positioning accuracy in three-dimensions (3D) is less than 8 m.
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