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Open AccessArticle

Airborne Optical Sectioning

Institute of Computer Graphics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, 4040 Linz, Austria
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Imaging 2018, 4(8), 102;
Received: 4 July 2018 / Revised: 2 August 2018 / Accepted: 11 August 2018 / Published: 13 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Trends in Image Processing for Cultural Heritage)
PDF [7671 KB, uploaded 13 August 2018]


Drones are becoming increasingly popular for remote sensing of landscapes in archeology, cultural heritage, forestry, and other disciplines. They are more efficient than airplanes for capturing small areas, of up to several hundred square meters. LiDAR (light detection and ranging) and photogrammetry have been applied together with drones to achieve 3D reconstruction. With airborne optical sectioning (AOS), we present a radically different approach that is based on an old idea: synthetic aperture imaging. Rather than measuring, computing, and rendering 3D point clouds or triangulated 3D meshes, we apply image-based rendering for 3D visualization. In contrast to photogrammetry, AOS does not suffer from inaccurate correspondence matches and long processing times. It is cheaper than LiDAR, delivers surface color information, and has the potential to achieve high sampling resolutions. AOS samples the optical signal of wide synthetic apertures (30–100 m diameter) with unstructured video images recorded from a low-cost camera drone to support optical sectioning by image integration. The wide aperture signal results in a shallow depth of field and consequently in a strong blur of out-of-focus occluders, while images of points in focus remain clearly visible. Shifting focus computationally towards the ground allows optical slicing through dense occluder structures (such as leaves, tree branches, and coniferous trees), and discovery and inspection of concealed artifacts on the surface. View Full-Text
Keywords: computational imaging; image-based rendering; light fields; synthetic apertures computational imaging; image-based rendering; light fields; synthetic apertures

Figure 1

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).

Supplementary materials

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  • Externally hosted supplementary file 1
    Description: The raw and processed (rectified and cropped) recordings and pose data for experiment 1.
  • Externally hosted supplementary file 2
    Description: The raw and processed (rectified and cropped) recordings and pose data for experiment 2.

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Kurmi, I.; Schedl, D.C.; Bimber, O. Airborne Optical Sectioning. J. Imaging 2018, 4, 102.

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