Special Issue "Drones for Topographic Mapping"

A special issue of Drones (ISSN 2504-446X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Darren Turner
Website
Guest Editor
TerraLuma Research Group, University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay, TAS 7005, Australia
Interests: UAS remote sensing; environmental modelling; 3D surface reconstruction; image processing; accuracy assessment
Dr. Juliane Bendig
Website
Guest Editor
TerraLuma Research Group, University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay, TAS 7005, Australia
Interests: UAV remote sensing, agriculture, hyperspectral, chlorophyll fluorescence, structure from motion, canopy surface models
Dr. Luke Wallace
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
School of Science, Geospatial Science, RMIT University, Australia
Interests: 3D remote sensing; remote sensing of forested environments; laser scanning; vegetation structure; wildfire
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs), or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs), or drones as they are now commonly referred to, are becoming increasingly popular as remote sensing tools. The ability to collect many and highly-overlapping images with great ease, along with advances in Structure from Motion (SfM) image processing software, have made it straight forward for a researcher to create orthophotos of a study site. An important (and often ignored) by-product of this process is the Digital Surface Model (DSM) that is also created during this process.

It was previously the case that complex and expensive systems, such as LiDAR, were required to create a high resolution 3D point clouds of a study area. Now a similar result can be achieved from highly overlapping photography processed with SfM software. In fact UAS based DSMs are typically of much higher resolution than traditional LiDAR datasets, however, there are important differences that must be considered.

This Special Issue of Drones seeks to find the latest research in the area of topographic mapping with drones. What can really be achieved with this type of data? What are the limitations? How accurate do the datasets need to be for the purpose of temporal comparison? Can these DSMs be used to create accurate hydrological models? What sort of real world questions can be address with such detailed topographic data? What flight and image parameters achieve the best topographic results? These are the types of questions that we hope to address with this Special Issue.

The publication of a set of quality papers in the area of drone based topographic modelling will explore the potential for drones to provide data at an unprecedented level of detail. This will provide a basis for future research in this area and pave the way for future studies.

Dr. Darren Turner
Dr. Luke Wallace
Dr. Juliane Bendig
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Drones is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
UAV-Derived Himalayan Topography: Hazard Assessments and Comparison with Global DEM Products
Drones 2019, 3(1), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones3010018 - 13 Feb 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Topography derived using human-portable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and structure from motion photogrammetry offers an order of magnitude improvement in spatial resolution and uncertainty over small survey extents, compared to global digital elevation model (DEM) products, which are often the only available choice [...] Read more.
Topography derived using human-portable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and structure from motion photogrammetry offers an order of magnitude improvement in spatial resolution and uncertainty over small survey extents, compared to global digital elevation model (DEM) products, which are often the only available choice of DEMs in the high-mountain Himalaya. Access to fine-resolution topography in the high mountain Himalaya is essential to assess where flood and landslide events present a risk to populations and infrastructure. In this study, we compare the topography of UAV-derived DEMs, three open-access global DEM products, and the 8 m High Mountain Asia (HMA) DEMs (released in December 2017) and assess their suitability for landslide- and flood-related hazard assessments. We observed close similarity between UAV and HMA DEMs when comparing terrain elevation, river channel delineation, landside volume, and landslide-dammed lake area and volume. We demonstrate the use of fine-resolution topography in a flood-modelling scenario relating to landslide-dammed lakes that formed on the Marsyangdi River following the 2015 Gorkha earthquake. We outline a workflow for using UAVs in hazard assessments and disaster situations to generate fine-resolution topography and facilitate real-time decision-making capabilities, such as assessing landslide-dammed lakes, mass movement volumes, and flood risk. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drones for Topographic Mapping)
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Open AccessArticle
Assessing the Accuracy of Digital Surface Models Derived from Optical Imagery Acquired with Unmanned Aerial Systems
Drones 2019, 3(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones3010015 - 30 Jan 2019
Cited by 14
Abstract
Small unmanned aerial systems (UASs) equipped with an optical camera are a cost-effective strategy for topographic surveys. These low-cost UASs can provide useful information for three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction even if they are equipped with a low-quality navigation system. To ensure the production of [...] Read more.
Small unmanned aerial systems (UASs) equipped with an optical camera are a cost-effective strategy for topographic surveys. These low-cost UASs can provide useful information for three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction even if they are equipped with a low-quality navigation system. To ensure the production of high-quality topographic models, careful consideration of the flight mode and proper distribution of ground control points are required. To this end, a commercial UAS was adopted to monitor a small earthen dam using different combinations of flight configurations and by adopting a variable number of ground control points (GCPs). The results highlight that optimization of both the choice and combination of flight plans can reduce the relative error of the 3D model to within two meters without the need to include GCPs. However, the use of GCPs greatly improved the quality of the topographic survey, reducing error to the order of a few centimeters. The combined use of images extracted from two flights, one with a camera mounted at nadir and the second with a 20° angle, was found to be beneficial for increasing the overall accuracy of the 3D model and especially the vertical precision. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drones for Topographic Mapping)
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Open AccessArticle
Using Digital Surface Models from UAS Imagery of Fire Damaged Sphagnum Peatlands for Monitoring and Hydrological Restoration
Drones 2018, 2(4), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones2040045 - 14 Dec 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
The sub-alpine and alpine Sphagnum peatlands in Australia are geographically constrained to poorly drained areas c. 1000 m a.s.l. Sphagnum is an important contributor to the resilience of peatlands; however, it is also very sensitive to fire and often shows slow recovery after [...] Read more.
The sub-alpine and alpine Sphagnum peatlands in Australia are geographically constrained to poorly drained areas c. 1000 m a.s.l. Sphagnum is an important contributor to the resilience of peatlands; however, it is also very sensitive to fire and often shows slow recovery after being damaged. Recovery is largely dependent on a sufficient water supply and impeded drainage. Monitoring the fragmented areas of Australia’s peatlands can be achieved by capturing ultra-high spatial resolution imagery from an unmanned aerial systems (UAS). High resolution digital surface models (DSMs) can be created from UAS imagery, from which hydrological models can be derived to monitor hydrological changes and assist with rehabilitation of damaged peatlands. One of the constraints of the use of UAS is the intensive fieldwork required. The need to distribute ground control points (GCPs) adds to fieldwork complexity. GCPs are often used for georeferencing of the UAS imagery, as well as for removal of artificial tilting and doming of the photogrammetric model created by camera distortions. In this study, Tasmania’s northern peatlands were mapped to test the viability of creating hydrological models. The case study was further used to test three different GCP scenarios to assess the effect on DSM quality. From the five scenarios, three required the use of all (16–20) GCPs to create accurate DSMs, whereas the two other sites provided accurate DSMs when only using four GCPs. Hydrological maps produced with the TauDEM tools software package showed high visual accuracy and a good potential for rehabilitation guidance, when using ground-controlled DSMs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drones for Topographic Mapping)
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