Special Issue "Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)"

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. William (Bill) Emery
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Smead Aerospace Eng. Sci. Dept, CB 431, Univ of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
Interests: ocean remote sensing, sea surface temperature, ocean currents from sequential infrared-ocean color and SAR images, sea ice motion, sea ice concentration, land surface vegetation, BRDF, urban remote sensing, high-resolution image classification, infrared measurements from UAVs
Prof. John Schmalzel
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
College of Engineering, Rowan University, 201 Mullica Hill Road, Glassboro, NJ, USA
Interests: intelligent sensors and biosensors

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue will publish papers that cross the boundary between the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platform and the sensors needed to carry out remote sensing from these platforms. There is considerable activity in the development of a wide variety of UAVs, both in terms of copter platforms and fixed wing UAVs, but there is little emphasis on the activity needed to extend the use of these platforms from strictly a photography system. We seek papers that describe the development and deployment of new sensors on UAV platforms that go beyond just a new photographic perspective. We will publish papers about photography but the application must have a unique aspect to it that makes the UAV the ideal platform for this particular application. We also seek papers where modifications of the UAV platform are required to accommodate the remote sensing instrument. In this way, we hope to solicit and publish papers representing work in the area of remote sensing that is enabled by the UAV platform. The emphasis in on the platform and the sensor technology and all application areas will be considered.

Dr. William (Bill) Emery
Prof. John Schmalzel
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. Remote Sensing is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly 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 1800 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.

Keywords

  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
  • Air-deployed small sensors
  • Earth remote sensing
  • Airborne image registration

Published Papers (18 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Editorial for “Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles”
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(12), 1877; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10121877 - 24 Nov 2018
Abstract
The recent proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) platforms has greatly increased our ability to remotely sense the Earth’s surface from the air at particularly low altitudes. [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs))

Research

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Open AccessArticle
An Unmanned Aircraft System to Detect a Radiological Point Source Using RIMA Software Architecture
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(11), 1712; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10111712 - 30 Oct 2018
Abstract
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs), together with the miniaturisation of computers, sensors, and electronics, offer new remote sensing applications. However, there is a lack of hardware and software support to effectively develop the potential of UASs in different remote sensing applications, such as the [...] Read more.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs), together with the miniaturisation of computers, sensors, and electronics, offer new remote sensing applications. However, there is a lack of hardware and software support to effectively develop the potential of UASs in different remote sensing applications, such as the detection of radioactive sources. This paper presents the design, development and validation of a UAS for the detection of an uncontrolled and point radioactive source. The article describes a flexible and reusable software architecture for detecting the radioactive source (NaTcO 4 , containing 99 m Tc) with a gamma-ray Cadmium Zinc Telluride (CZT) spectrometer as a proof of concept. The UAS is equipped with multichannel air-ground communications to perform missions beyond line of sight and onboard computation to process samples in real time and thus react to any anomaly detected during the mission. An ad hoc ground control station (GCS) has also been developed for the correct interpretation of the radioactive samples taken by the UAS. Radiological spectra plots, contour mapping and waterfall plots are some of the elements used in the ad hoc GCS. The article shows the results obtained in a flight campaign performing different flights at different altitudes and speeds over the radiological source, demonstrating the viability of the system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs))
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Open AccessArticle
Radiometric Correction of Landsat-8 and Sentinel-2A Scenes Using Drone Imagery in Synergy with Field Spectroradiometry
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(11), 1687; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10111687 - 26 Oct 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
The main objective of this research is to apply unmanned aerial system (UAS) data in synergy with field spectroradiometry for the accurate radiometric correction of Landsat-8 (L8) and Sentinel-2 (S2) imagery. The central hypothesis is that imagery acquired with multispectral UAS sensors that [...] Read more.
The main objective of this research is to apply unmanned aerial system (UAS) data in synergy with field spectroradiometry for the accurate radiometric correction of Landsat-8 (L8) and Sentinel-2 (S2) imagery. The central hypothesis is that imagery acquired with multispectral UAS sensors that are well calibrated with highly accurate field measurements can fill in the scale gap between satellite imagery and conventional in situ measurements; this can be possible by sampling a larger area, including difficult-to-access land covers, in less time while simultaneously providing good radiometric quality. With this aim and by using near-coincident L8 and S2 imagery, we applied an upscaling workflow, whereby: (a) UAS-acquired multispectral data was empirically fitted to the reflectance of field measurements, with an extensive set of radiometric references distributed across the spectral domain; (b) drone data was resampled to satellite grids for comparison with the radiometrically corrected L8 and S2 official products (6S-LaSRC and Sen2Cor-SNAP, respectively) and the CorRad-MiraMon algorithm using pseudo-invariant areas, such as reflectance references (PIA-MiraMon), to examine their overall accuracy; (c) then, a subset of UAS data was used as reflectance references, in combination with the CorRad-MiraMon algorithm (UAS-MiraMon), to radiometrically correct the matching bands of UAS, L8, and S2; and (d) radiometrically corrected L8 and S2 scenes obtained with UAS-MiraMon were intercompared (intersensor coherence). In the first upscaling step, the results showed a good correlation between the field spectroradiometric measurements and the drone data in all evaluated bands (R2 > 0.946). In the second upscaling step, drone data indicated good agreement (estimated from root mean square error, RMSE) with the satellite official products in visible (VIS) bands (RMSEVIS < 2.484%), but yielded poor results in the near-infrared (NIR) band (RMSENIR > 6.688% was not very good due to spectral sensor response differences). In the third step, UAS-MiraMon indicated better agreement (RMSEVIS < 2.018%) than the other satellite radiometric correction methods in visible bands (6S-LaSRC (RMSE < 2.680%), Sen2Cor-SNAP (RMSE < 2.192%), and PIA-MiraMon (RMSE < 3.130%), but did not achieve sufficient results in the NIR band (RMSENIR < 7.530%); this also occurred with all other methods. In the intercomparison step, the UAS-MiraMon method achieved an excellent intersensor (L8-S2) coherence (RMSEVIS < 1%). The UAS-sampled area involved 51 L8 (30 m) pixels, 143 S2 (20 m) pixels, and 517 S2 (10 m) pixels. The drone time needed to cover this area was only 10 min, including areas that were difficult to access. The systematic sampling of the study area was achieved with a pixel size of 6 cm, and the raster nature of the sampling allowed for an easy but rigorous resampling of UAS data to the different satellite grids. These advances improve human capacities for conventional field spectroradiometry samplings. However, our study also shows that field spectroradiometry is the backbone that supports the full upscaling workflow. In conclusion, the synergy between field spectroradiometry, UAS sensors, and Landsat-like satellite data can be a useful tool for accurate radiometric corrections used in local environmental studies or the monitoring of protected areas around the world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs))
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Open AccessArticle
Assessing Radiometric Correction Approaches for Multi-Spectral UAS Imagery for Horticultural Applications
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(11), 1684; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10111684 - 25 Oct 2018
Cited by 7
Abstract
Multi-spectral imagery captured from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) is becoming increasingly popular for the improved monitoring and managing of various horticultural crops. However, for UAS-based data to be used as an industry standard for assessing tree structure and condition as well as production [...] Read more.
Multi-spectral imagery captured from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) is becoming increasingly popular for the improved monitoring and managing of various horticultural crops. However, for UAS-based data to be used as an industry standard for assessing tree structure and condition as well as production parameters, it is imperative that the appropriate data collection and pre-processing protocols are established to enable multi-temporal comparison. There are several UAS-based radiometric correction methods commonly used for precision agricultural purposes. However, their relative accuracies have not been assessed for data acquired in complex horticultural environments. This study assessed the variations in estimated surface reflectance values of different radiometric corrections applied to multi-spectral UAS imagery acquired in both avocado and banana orchards. We found that inaccurate calibration panel measurements, inaccurate signal-to-reflectance conversion, and high variation in geometry between illumination, surface, and sensor viewing produced significant radiometric variations in at-surface reflectance estimates. Potential solutions to address these limitations included appropriate panel deployment, site-specific sensor calibration, and appropriate bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF) correction. Future UAS-based horticultural crop monitoring can benefit from the proposed solutions to radiometric corrections to ensure they are using comparable image-based maps of multi-temporal biophysical properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs))
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Open AccessArticle
Capturing the Diurnal Cycle of Land Surface Temperature Using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(9), 1407; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10091407 - 05 Sep 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Characterizing the land surface temperature (LST) and its diurnal cycle is important in understanding a range of surface properties, including soil moisture status, evaporative response, vegetation stress and ground heat flux. While remote-sensing platforms present a number of options to retrieve this variable, [...] Read more.
Characterizing the land surface temperature (LST) and its diurnal cycle is important in understanding a range of surface properties, including soil moisture status, evaporative response, vegetation stress and ground heat flux. While remote-sensing platforms present a number of options to retrieve this variable, there are inevitable compromises between the resolvable spatial and temporal resolution. For instance, the spatial resolution of geostationary satellites, which can provide sub-hourly LST, is often too coarse (3 km) for many applications. On the other hand, higher-resolution polar orbiting satellites are generally infrequent in time, with return intervals on the order of weeks, limiting their capacity to capture surface dynamics. With recent developments in the application of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), there is now the opportunity to collect LST measurements on demand and at ultra-high spatial resolution. Here, we detail the collection and analysis of a UAV-based LST dataset, with the purpose of examining the diurnal surface temperature response: something that has not been possible from traditional satellite platforms at these scales. Two separate campaigns were conducted over a bare desert surface in combination with either Rhodes grass or a recently harvested maize field. In both cases, thermal imagery was collected between 0800 and 1700 local solar time. The UAV-based diurnal cycle was consistent with ground-based measurements, with a mean correlation coefficient and root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.99 and 0.68 °C, respectively. LST retrieved over the grass surface presented the best results, with an RMSE of 0.45 °C compared to 0.67 °C for the single desert site and 1.28 °C for the recently harvested maize surface. Even considering the orders of magnitude difference in scale, an exploratory analysis comparing retrievals of the UAV-based diurnal cycle with METEOSAT geostationary data yielded pleasing results (R = 0.98; RMSE = 1.23 °C). Overall, our analysis revealed a diurnal range over the desert and maize surfaces of ~20 °C and ~17 °C respectively, while the grass showed a reduced amplitude of ~12 °C. Considerable heterogeneity was observed over the grass surface at the peak of the diurnal cycle, which was likely indicative of the varying crop water status. To our knowledge, this study presents the first spatially varying analysis of the diurnal LST captured at ultra-high resolution, from any remote platform. Our findings highlight the considerable potential to utilize UAV-based retrievals to enhance investigations across multi-disciplinary studies in agriculture, hydrology and land-atmosphere investigations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs))
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Open AccessArticle
Merging Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Imagery and Echo Soundings with an Adaptive Sampling Technique for Bathymetric Surveys
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(9), 1362; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10091362 - 28 Aug 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
Bathymetric surveying to gather information about depths and underwater terrain is increasingly important to the sciences of hydrology and geomorphology. Submerged terrain change detection, water level, and reservoir storage monitoring demand extensive bathymetric data. Despite often being scarce or unavailable, this information is [...] Read more.
Bathymetric surveying to gather information about depths and underwater terrain is increasingly important to the sciences of hydrology and geomorphology. Submerged terrain change detection, water level, and reservoir storage monitoring demand extensive bathymetric data. Despite often being scarce or unavailable, this information is fundamental to hydrodynamic modeling for imposing boundary conditions and building computational domains. In this manuscript, a novel, low-cost, rapid, and accurate method is developed to measure submerged topography, as an alternative to conventional approaches that require significant economic investments and human power. The method integrates two types of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) sampling techniques. The first couples a small UAS (sUAS) to an echosounder attached to a miniaturized boat for surveying submerged topography in deeper water within the range of accuracy. The second uses Structure from Motion (SfM) photogrammetry to cover shallower water areas no detected by the echosounder where the bed is visible from the sUAS. The refraction of light passing through air–water interface is considered for improving the bathymetric results. A zonal adaptive sampling algorithm is developed and applied to the echosounder data to densify measurements where the standard deviation of clustered points is high. This method is tested at a small reservoir in the U.S. southern plains. Ground Control Points (GCPs) and checkpoints surveyed with a total station are used for properly georeferencing of the SfM photogrammetry and assessment of the UAS imagery accuracy. An independent validation procedure providing a number of skill and error metrics is conducted using ground-truth data collected with a leveling rod at co-located reservoir points. Assessment of the results shows a strong correlation between the echosounder, SfM measurements and the field observations. The final product is a hybrid bathymetric survey resulting from the merging of SfM photogrammetry and echosoundings within an adaptive sampling framework. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs))
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Open AccessCommunication
Visualizing the Spatiotemporal Trends of Thermal Characteristics in a Peatland Plantation Forest in Indonesia: Pilot Test Using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs)
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(9), 1345; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10091345 - 23 Aug 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
The high demand for unmanned aerial systems (UASs) reflects the notable impact that these systems have had on the remote sensing field in recent years. Such systems can be used to discover new findings and develop strategic plans in related scientific fields. In [...] Read more.
The high demand for unmanned aerial systems (UASs) reflects the notable impact that these systems have had on the remote sensing field in recent years. Such systems can be used to discover new findings and develop strategic plans in related scientific fields. In this work, a case study is performed to describe a novel approach that uses a UAS with two different sensors and assesses the possibility of monitoring peatland in a small area of a plantation forest in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. First, a multicopter drone with an onboard camera was used to collect aerial images of the study area. The structure from motion (SfM) method was implemented to generate a mosaic image. A digital surface model (DSM) and digital terrain model (DTM) were used to compute a canopy height model (CHM) and explore the vegetation height. Second, a multicopter drone combined with a thermal infrared camera (Zenmuse-XT) was utilized to collect both spatial and temporal thermal data from the study area. The temperature is an important factor that controls the oxidation of tropical peats by microorganisms, root respiration, the soil water content, and so forth. In turn, these processes can alter the greenhouse gas (GHG) flux in the area. Using principal component analysis (PCA), the thermal data were processed to visualize the thermal characteristics of the study site, and the PCA successfully extracted different feature areas. The trends in the thermal information clearly show the differences among land cover types, and the heating and cooling of the peat varies throughout the study area. This study shows the potential for using UAS thermal remote sensing to interpret the characteristics of thermal trends in peatland environments, and the proposed method can be used to guide strategical approaches for monitoring the peatlands in Indonesia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs))
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Open AccessArticle
Window Detection from UAS-Derived Photogrammetric Point Cloud Employing Density-Based Filtering and Perceptual Organization
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(8), 1320; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10081320 - 20 Aug 2018
Abstract
Point clouds with ever-increasing volume are regular data in 3D city modelling, in which building reconstruction is a significant part. The photogrammetric point cloud, generated from UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) imagery, is a novel type of data in building reconstruction. Its positive characteristics, [...] Read more.
Point clouds with ever-increasing volume are regular data in 3D city modelling, in which building reconstruction is a significant part. The photogrammetric point cloud, generated from UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) imagery, is a novel type of data in building reconstruction. Its positive characteristics, alongside its challenging qualities, provoke discussions on this theme of research. In this paper, patch-wise detection of the points of window frames on facades and roofs are undertaken using this kind of data. A density-based multi-scale filter is devised in the feature space of normal vectors to globally handle the matter of high volume of data and to detect edges. Color information is employed for the downsized data to remove the inner clutter of the building. Perceptual organization directs the approach via grouping and the Gestalt principles, to segment the filtered point cloud and to later detect window patches. The evaluation of the approach displays a completeness of 95% and 92%, respectively, as well as a correctness of 95% and 96%, respectively, for the detection of rectangular and partially curved window frames in two big heterogeneous cluttered datasets. Moreover, most intrusions and protrusions cannot mislead the window detection approach. Several doors with glass parts and a number of parallel parts of the scaffolding are mistaken as windows when using the large-scale object detection approach due to their similar patterns with window frames. Sensitivity analysis of the input parameters demonstrates that the filter functionality depends on the radius of density calculation in the feature space. Furthermore, successfully employing the Gestalt principles in the detection of window frames is influenced by the width determination of window partitioning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs))
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Open AccessArticle
Use of Multi-Rotor Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Radioactive Source Search
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(5), 728; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10050728 - 09 May 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
In recent years, many radioactive sources have been lost or stolen during use or transportation. When the radioactive source is lost or stolen, it is challenging but imperative to quickly locate the source before it causes damage. Nowadays, source search based on fixed-wing [...] Read more.
In recent years, many radioactive sources have been lost or stolen during use or transportation. When the radioactive source is lost or stolen, it is challenging but imperative to quickly locate the source before it causes damage. Nowadays, source search based on fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can significantly improve search efficiency, but this approach has higher requirements for the activity of the uncontrolled radioactive source and the take-off sites. The aim of this study was to design and demonstrate a platform that uses low-cost multi-rotor UAVs to automatically and efficiently search for uncontrolled radioactive sources even with lower activity. The hardware of this platform consists of a multi-rotor UAV, radiation detection sensor, main control module, gimbal and camera, and ground control station. In the search process, the ground control station and UAV communicate wirelessly in real time. To accommodate different search scenarios, the study proposed three search algorithms with a theoretical comparison. Then, field experiments based on the traversal search algorithm showed that the search system based on multi-rotor UAVs could effectively and accurately conduct contour mapping of a region and locate the radioactive source with an error of 0.32 m. The platform and algorithms enable accurate and efficient searching of radioactive sources, providing an innovative demonstration of future environmental risk assessment and management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs))
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Open AccessArticle
3-D Characterization of Vineyards Using a Novel UAV Imagery-Based OBIA Procedure for Precision Viticulture Applications
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(4), 584; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10040584 - 10 Apr 2018
Cited by 15
Abstract
Precision viticulture has arisen in recent years as a new approach in grape production. It is based on assessing field spatial variability and implementing site-specific management strategies, which can require georeferenced information of the three dimensional (3D) grapevine canopy structure as one of [...] Read more.
Precision viticulture has arisen in recent years as a new approach in grape production. It is based on assessing field spatial variability and implementing site-specific management strategies, which can require georeferenced information of the three dimensional (3D) grapevine canopy structure as one of the input data. The 3D structure of vineyard fields can be generated applying photogrammetric techniques to aerial images collected with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), although processing the large amount of crop data embedded in 3D models is currently a bottleneck of this technology. To solve this limitation, a novel and robust object-based image analysis (OBIA) procedure based on Digital Surface Model (DSM) was developed for 3D grapevine characterization. The significance of this work relies on the developed OBIA algorithm which is fully automatic and self-adaptive to different crop-field conditions, classifying grapevines, and row gap (missing vine plants), and computing vine dimensions without any user intervention. The results obtained in three testing fields on two different dates showed high accuracy in the classification of grapevine area and row gaps, as well as minor errors in the estimates of grapevine height. In addition, this algorithm computed the position, projected area, and volume of every grapevine in the field, which increases the potential of this UAV- and OBIA-based technology as a tool for site-specific crop management applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs))
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Open AccessArticle
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle-Based Traffic Analysis: A Case Study for Shockwave Identification and Flow Parameters Estimation at Signalized Intersections
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(3), 458; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10030458 - 14 Mar 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
Owing to their dynamic and multidisciplinary characteristics, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, have become increasingly popular. However, the civil applications of this technology, particularly for traffic data collection and analysis, still need to be thoroughly explored. For this purpose, the authors previously [...] Read more.
Owing to their dynamic and multidisciplinary characteristics, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, have become increasingly popular. However, the civil applications of this technology, particularly for traffic data collection and analysis, still need to be thoroughly explored. For this purpose, the authors previously proposed a detailed methodological framework for the automated UAV video processing in order to extract multi-vehicle trajectories at a particular road segment. In this paper, however, the main emphasis is on the comprehensive analysis of vehicle trajectories extracted via a UAV-based video processing framework. An analytical methodology is presented for: (i) the automatic identification of flow states and shockwaves based on processed UAV trajectories, and (ii) the subsequent extraction of various traffic parameters and performance indicators in order to study flow conditions at a signalized intersection. The experimental data to analyze traffic flow conditions was obtained in the city of Sint-Truiden, Belgium. The generation of simplified trajectories, shockwaves, and fundamental diagrams help in analyzing the interrupted-flow conditions at a signalized four-legged intersection using UAV-acquired data. The analysis conducted on such data may serve as a benchmark for the actual traffic-specific applications of the UAV-acquired data. The results reflect the value of flexibility and bird-eye view provided by UAV videos; thereby depicting the overall applicability of the UAV-based traffic analysis system. The future research will mainly focus on further extensions of UAV-based traffic applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs))
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Open AccessArticle
Early-Season Stand Count Determination in Corn via Integration of Imagery from Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Supervised Learning Techniques
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 343; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020343 - 23 Feb 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Corn (Zea mays L.) is one of the most sensitive crops to planting pattern and early-season uniformity. The most common method to determine number of plants is by visual inspection on the ground but this field activity becomes time-consuming, labor-intensive, biased, and [...] Read more.
Corn (Zea mays L.) is one of the most sensitive crops to planting pattern and early-season uniformity. The most common method to determine number of plants is by visual inspection on the ground but this field activity becomes time-consuming, labor-intensive, biased, and may lead to less profitable decisions by farmers. The objective of this study was to develop a reliable, timely, and unbiased method for counting corn plants based on ultra-high-resolution imagery acquired from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to automatically scout fields and applied to real field conditions. A ground sampling distance of 2.4 mm was targeted to extract information at a plant-level basis. First, an excess greenness (ExG) index was used to individualized green pixels from the background, then rows and inter-row contours were identified and extracted. A scalable training procedure was implemented using geometric descriptors as inputs of the classifier. Second, a decision tree was implemented and tested using two training modes in each site to expose the workflow to different ground conditions at the time of the aerial data acquisition. Differences in performance were due to training modes and spatial resolutions in the two sites. For an object classification task, an overall accuracy of 0.96, based on the proportion of corrected assessment of corn and non-corn objects, was obtained for local (per-site) classification, and an accuracy of 0.93 was obtained for the combined training modes. For successful model implementation, plants should have between two to three leaves when images are collected (avoiding overlapping between plants). Best workflow performance was reached at 2.4 mm resolution corresponding to 10 m of altitude (lower altitude); higher altitudes were gradually penalized. The latter was coincident with the larger number of detected green objects in the images and the effectiveness of geometry as descriptor for corn plant detection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs))
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Open AccessArticle
Modeling of Alpine Grassland Cover Based on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Technology and Multi-Factor Methods: A Case Study in the East of Tibetan Plateau, China
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 320; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020320 - 21 Feb 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Grassland cover and its temporal changes are key parameters in the estimation and monitoring of ecosystems and their functions, especially via remote sensing. However, the most suitable model for estimating grassland cover and the differences between models has rarely been studied in alpine [...] Read more.
Grassland cover and its temporal changes are key parameters in the estimation and monitoring of ecosystems and their functions, especially via remote sensing. However, the most suitable model for estimating grassland cover and the differences between models has rarely been studied in alpine meadow grasslands. In this study, field measurements of grassland cover in Gannan Prefecture, from 2014 to 2016, were acquired using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology. Single-factor parametric and multi-factor parametric/non-parametric cover inversion models were then constructed based on 14 factors related to grassland cover, and the dynamic variation of the annual maximum cover was analyzed. The results show that (1) nine out of 14 factors (longitude, latitude, elevation, the concentrations of clay and sand in the surface and bottom soils, temperature, precipitation, enhanced vegetation index (EVI) and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI)) exert a significant effect on grassland cover in the study area. The logarithmic model based on EVI presents the best performance, with an R2 and RMSE of 0.52 and 16.96%, respectively. Single-factor grassland cover inversion models account for only 1–49% of the variation in cover during the growth season. (2) The optimum grassland cover inversion model is the artificial neural network (BP-ANN), with an R2 and RMSE of 0.72 and 13.38%, and SDs of 0.062% and 1.615%, respectively. Both the accuracy and the stability of the BP-ANN model are higher than those of the single-factor parametric models and multi-factor parametric/non-parametric models. (3) The annual maximum cover in Gannan Prefecture presents an increasing trend over 60.60% of the entire study area, while 36.54% is presently stable and 2.86% exhibits a decreasing trend. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs))
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Open AccessArticle
A Robust Transform Estimator Based on Residual Analysis and Its Application on UAV Aerial Images
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 291; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020291 - 13 Feb 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Estimating the transformation between two images from the same scene is a fundamental step for image registration, image stitching and 3D reconstruction. State-of-the-art methods are mainly based on sorted residual for generating hypotheses. This scheme has acquired encouraging results in many remote sensing [...] Read more.
Estimating the transformation between two images from the same scene is a fundamental step for image registration, image stitching and 3D reconstruction. State-of-the-art methods are mainly based on sorted residual for generating hypotheses. This scheme has acquired encouraging results in many remote sensing applications. Unfortunately, mainstream residual based methods may fail in estimating the transform between Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) low altitude remote sensing images, due to the fact that UAV images always have repetitive patterns and severe viewpoint changes, which produce lower inlier rate and higher pseudo outlier rate than other tasks. We performed extensive experiments and found the main reason is that these methods compute feature pair similarity within a fixed window, making them sensitive to the size of residual window. To solve this problem, three schemes that based on the distribution of residuals are proposed, which are called Relational Window (RW), Sliding Window (SW), Reverse Residual Order (RRO), respectively. Specially, RW employs a relaxation residual window size to evaluate the highest similarity within a relaxation model length. SW fixes the number of overlap models while varying the length of window size. RRO takes the permutation of residual values into consideration to measure similarity, not only including the number of overlap structures, but also giving penalty to reverse number within the overlap structures. Experimental results conducted on our own built UAV high resolution remote sensing images show that the proposed three strategies all outperform traditional methods in the presence of severe perspective distortion due to viewpoint change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs))
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
An Automatic Random Forest-OBIA Algorithm for Early Weed Mapping between and within Crop Rows Using UAV Imagery
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 285; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020285 - 12 Feb 2018
Cited by 34
Abstract
Accurate and timely detection of weeds between and within crop rows in the early growth stage is considered one of the main challenges in site-specific weed management (SSWM). In this context, a robust and innovative automatic object-based image analysis (OBIA) algorithm was developed [...] Read more.
Accurate and timely detection of weeds between and within crop rows in the early growth stage is considered one of the main challenges in site-specific weed management (SSWM). In this context, a robust and innovative automatic object-based image analysis (OBIA) algorithm was developed on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) images to design early post-emergence prescription maps. This novel algorithm makes the major contribution. The OBIA algorithm combined Digital Surface Models (DSMs), orthomosaics and machine learning techniques (Random Forest, RF). OBIA-based plant heights were accurately estimated and used as a feature in the automatic sample selection by the RF classifier; this was the second research contribution. RF randomly selected a class balanced training set, obtained the optimum features values and classified the image, requiring no manual training, making this procedure time-efficient and more accurate, since it removes errors due to a subjective manual task. The ability to discriminate weeds was significantly affected by the imagery spatial resolution and weed density, making the use of higher spatial resolution images more suitable. Finally, prescription maps for in-season post-emergence SSWM were created based on the weed maps—the third research contribution—which could help farmers in decision-making to optimize crop management by rationalization of the herbicide application. The short time involved in the process (image capture and analysis) would allow timely weed control during critical periods, crucial for preventing yield loss. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs))
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Open AccessArticle
Measuring Vegetation Height in Linear Disturbances in the Boreal Forest with UAV Photogrammetry
Remote Sens. 2017, 9(12), 1257; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs9121257 - 03 Dec 2017
Cited by 15
Abstract
Monitoring vegetation recovery typically requires ground measurements of vegetation height, which is labor-intensive and time-consuming. Recently, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have shown great promise for characterizing vegetation in a cost-efficient way, but the literature on specific methods and cost savings is scant. In [...] Read more.
Monitoring vegetation recovery typically requires ground measurements of vegetation height, which is labor-intensive and time-consuming. Recently, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have shown great promise for characterizing vegetation in a cost-efficient way, but the literature on specific methods and cost savings is scant. In this study, we surveyed vegetation height on seismic lines in Alberta’s Boreal Forest using a point-intercept sampling strategy, and compared them to height estimates derived from UAV-based photogrammetric point clouds. In order to derive UAV-based vegetation height, we tested three different approaches to estimate terrain elevation: (1) UAV_RTK, where photogrammetric point clouds were normalized using terrain measurements obtained from a real-time kinematic global navigation satellite system (RTK GNSS) surveys; (2) UAV_LiDAR, where photogrammetric data were normalized using pre-existing LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data; and (3) UAV_UAV, where UAV photogrammetry data were used alone. Comparisons were done at two scales: point level (n = 1743) and site level (n = 30). The point-level root-mean-square errors (RMSEs) of UAV_RTK, UAV_LiDAR, and UAV_UAV were 28 cm, 31 cm, and 30 cm, respectively. The site-level RMSEs were 11 cm, 15 cm, and 8 cm, respectively. At the aggregated site level, we found that UAV photogrammetry could replace traditional field-based vegetation surveys of mean vegetation height across the range of conditions assessed in this study, with an RMSE less than 10 cm. Cost analysis indicates that using UAV-based point clouds is more cost-effective than traditional field vegetation surveys. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs))
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Open AccessTechnical Note
Direct Georeferencing of a Pushbroom, Lightweight Hyperspectral System for Mini-UAV Applications
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(2), 204; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10020204 - 30 Jan 2018
Cited by 6
Abstract
Hyperspectral imagery has proven its potential in many research applications, especially in the field of environmental sciences. Currently, hyperspectral imaging is generally performed by satellite or aircraft platforms, but mini-UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) platforms (<20 kg) are now emerging. On such platforms, payload [...] Read more.
Hyperspectral imagery has proven its potential in many research applications, especially in the field of environmental sciences. Currently, hyperspectral imaging is generally performed by satellite or aircraft platforms, but mini-UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) platforms (<20 kg) are now emerging. On such platforms, payload restrictions are critical, so sensors must be selected according to stringent specifications. This article presents the integration of a light pushbroom hyperspectral sensor onboard a multirotor UAV, which we have called Hyper-DRELIO (Hyperspectral DRone for Environmental and LIttoral Observations). This article depicts the system design: the UAV platform, the imaging module, the navigation module, and the interfacing between the different elements. Pushbroom sensors offer a better combination of spatial and spectral resolution than full-frame cameras. Nevertheless, data georectification has to be performed line by line, the quality of direct georeferencing being limited by mechanical stability, good timing accuracy, and the resolution and accuracy of the proprioceptive sensors. A georegistration procedure is proposed for geometrical pre-processing of hyperspectral data. The specifications of Hyper-DRELIO surveys are described through two examples of surveys above coastal or inland waters, with different flight altitudes. This system can collect hyperspectral data in VNIR (Visible and Near InfraRed) domain above small study sites (up to about 4 ha) with both high spatial resolution (<10 cm) and high spectral resolution (1.85 nm) and with georectification accuracy on the order of 1 to 2 m. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs))
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Open AccessTechnical Note
Tracking of a Fluorescent Dye in a Freshwater Lake with an Unmanned Surface Vehicle and an Unmanned Aircraft System
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(1), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10010081 - 09 Jan 2018
Cited by 6
Abstract
Recent catastrophic events in our oceans, including the spill of toxic oil from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and the rapid dispersion of radioactive particulates from the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, underscore the need for new tools [...] Read more.
Recent catastrophic events in our oceans, including the spill of toxic oil from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and the rapid dispersion of radioactive particulates from the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, underscore the need for new tools and technologies to rapidly respond to hazardous agents. Our understanding of the movement and aerosolization of hazardous agents from natural aquatic systems can be expanded upon and used in prevention and tracking. New technologies with coordinated unmanned robotic systems could lead to faster identification and mitigation of hazardous agents in lakes, rivers, and oceans. In this study, we released a fluorescent dye (fluorescein) into a freshwater lake from an anchored floating platform. A fluorometer (fluorescence sensor) was mounted underneath an unmanned surface vehicle (USV, unmanned boat) and was used to detect and track the released dye in situ in real-time. An unmanned aircraft system (UAS) was used to visualize the dye and direct the USV to sample different areas of the dye plume. Image processing tools were used to map concentration profiles of the dye plume from aerial images acquired from the UAS, and these were associated with concentration measurements collected from the sensors onboard the USV. The results of this project have the potential to transform monitoring strategies for hazardous agents, enabling timely and accurate exposure assessment and response in affected areas. Fast response is essential in reacting to the introduction of hazardous agents, in order to quickly predict and contain their spread. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs))
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