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Open AccessArticle

Quality Assessment of DSMs Produced from UAV Flights Georeferenced with On-Board RTK Positioning

1
Department of Engineering and Architecture, University of Parma, Parco Area delle Scienze, 181/A, 43124 Parma, Italy
2
Environmental Protection Agency of Valle d’Aosta, Climate Change Unit, Loc. Grande Charrière, 44, 11020 Saint-Christophe (AO), Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 311; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020311
Received: 14 January 2018 / Revised: 13 February 2018 / Accepted: 15 February 2018 / Published: 17 February 2018
High-resolution Digital Surface Models (DSMs) from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) imagery with accuracy better than 10 cm open new possibilities in geosciences and engineering. The accuracy of such DSMs depends on the number and distribution of ground control points (GCPs). Placing and measuring GCPs are often the most time-consuming on-site tasks in a UAV project. Safety or accessibility concerns may impede their proper placement, so either costlier techniques must be used, or a less accurate DSM is obtained. Photogrammetric blocks flown by drones with on-board receivers capable of RTK (real-time kinematic) positioning do not need GCPs, as camera stations at exposure time can be determined with cm-level accuracy, and used to georeference the block and control its deformations. This paper presents an experimental investigation on the repeatability of DSM generation from several blocks acquired with a RTK-enabled drone, where differential corrections were sent from a local master station or a network of Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS). Four different flights for each RTK mode were executed over a test field, according to the same flight plan. DSM generation was performed with three block control configurations: GCP only, camera stations only, and with camera stations and one GCP. The results show that irrespective of the RTK mode, the first and third configurations provide the best DSM inner consistency. The average range of the elevation discrepancies among the DSMs in such cases is about 6 cm (2.5 GSD, ground sampling density) for a 10-cm resolution DSM. Using camera stations only, the average range is almost twice as large (4.7 GSD). The average DSM accuracy, which was verified on checkpoints, turned out to be about 2.1 GSD with the first and third configurations, and 3.7 GSD with camera stations only. View Full-Text
Keywords: UAV; GNSS-Assisted Aerial Triangulation; RTK; DSM; accuracy; repeatability; ground control points; checkpoints UAV; GNSS-Assisted Aerial Triangulation; RTK; DSM; accuracy; repeatability; ground control points; checkpoints
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MDPI and ACS Style

Forlani, G.; Dall’Asta, E.; Diotri, F.; Cella, U.M.; Roncella, R.; Santise, M. Quality Assessment of DSMs Produced from UAV Flights Georeferenced with On-Board RTK Positioning. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 311.

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