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Drift Correction of Lightweight Microbolometer Thermal Sensors On-Board Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Department of Graphic Engineering and Geomatics, University of Cordoba, Campus de Rabanales, 14071 Córdoba, Spain
Departamento de Gestión Forestal Ambiental, University of Talca, 3460000 Talca, Chile
Department of Engineering, University of Almeria, La Cañada, 04120 Almería, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(4), 615;
Received: 23 March 2018 / Revised: 23 March 2018 / Accepted: 12 April 2018 / Published: 17 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Remote Sensing in Agriculture and Vegetation)
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The development of lightweight sensors compatible with mini unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has expanded the agronomical applications of remote sensing. Of particular interest in this paper are thermal sensors based on lightweight microbolometer technology. These are mainly used to assess crop water stress with thermal images where an accuracy greater than 1 °C is necessary. However, these sensors lack precise temperature control, resulting in thermal drift during image acquisition that requires correction. Currently, there are several strategies to manage thermal drift effect. However, these strategies reduce useful flight time over crops due to the additional in-flight calibration operations. This study presents a drift correction methodology for microbolometer sensors based on redundant information from multiple overlapping images. An empirical study was performed in an orchard of high-density hedgerow olive trees with flights at different times of the day. Six mathematical drift correction models were developed and assessed to explain and correct drift effect on thermal images. Using the proposed methodology, the resulting thermally corrected orthomosaics yielded a rate of error lower than 1° C compared to those where no drift correction was applied. View Full-Text
Keywords: UAV; uncooled thermal sensor; precision agriculture; thermal orthomosaic UAV; uncooled thermal sensor; precision agriculture; thermal orthomosaic

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Mesas-Carrascosa, F.-J.; Pérez-Porras, F.; Meroño de Larriva, J.E.; Mena Frau, C.; Agüera-Vega, F.; Carvajal-Ramírez, F.; Martínez-Carricondo, P.; García-Ferrer, A. Drift Correction of Lightweight Microbolometer Thermal Sensors On-Board Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 615.

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