Data Research

Data research activities focus on the evaluation of new UAS compatible sensors and development of data processing techniques to take advantage of increased resolutions and accuracy to generate better traditional and new data products to help answer scientific and natural resource questions.

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AgiSoft PhotoScan Professional Edition - Generate high resolution georeferenced orthophotos (up to 5 cm accuracy with GCP) and exceptionally detailed DEMs / textured polygonal models. The fully automated workflow enables a non-specialist to process thousands of aerial images on a desktop computer to produce professional class photogrammetric data.

2d3 TacitView - Suite of image and video enhancement and exploitation tools, helping producers and consumers of aerial imagery capture, store, enhance and extract salient information from pixels.

GOM Media Player Uses a Burst Capture Routine to automatically capture still frame images at set intervals.

Blue Marble Geographics Global Mapper - Viewer/editor capable of displaying the most popular raster, elevation and vector datasets.

ENVI - ENVI uses proven scientific methods and automated processes to help easily extract information from geospatial imagery.

ImageJ - ImageJ is a public domain Java image processing program inspired by NIH Image for the Macintosh. It runs, either as an online applet or as a downloadable application, on any computer with a Java 1.4 or later virtual machine. Downloadable distributions are available for Windows, Mac OS, Mac OS X and Linux.

Exiv2 - Exiv2 is a C++ library and a command line utility to manage image metadata. It provides fast and easy read and write access to the Exif, IPTC and XMP metadata of images in various formats. Exiv2 is available as free software and with a commercial license, and is used in many projects.

Point cloud data derived from 1149 images take with a Sony NEX-7 camera on board a Falcon UAV, from approximately 400 feet above ground level over the Debeque Landslide in Mesa County, Colorado (Source data courtesy of the Mesa County Sheriff's Dept. and Falcon UAS).

Point cloud elevation

Point cloud 3D data is derived in the Agisoft PhotoScan software with a rainbow color ramp applied using the Global Mapper GIS software to define the ground elevation changes.

Point cloud natural color

Actual red, green, blue (natural color) values from the mosaicked aerial photographs, as well as, the horizontal and vertical ground measurements, are derived in the Agisoft PhotoScan software to precisely display a real-world look to the point cloud 3D model.

Point cloud temporal comparison

Temporal (time series) analysis can be conducted using two different UAS flights and derived data to compare subtle changes in the landscape. This shows a comparison using the Cloud Compare software showing possible changes or movements in the landscape over a 6-month period.

A Digital Surface Model (DSM) is a digital cartographic/geographic dataset of reflective surface elevations of horizontal and vertical (xyz) coordinates. The surface elevations for ground positions are sampled at regularly spaced horizontal intervals and can derived at very high ground resolution when using a low-altitude UAS with standard commercial off-the-shelf cameras. DSM's contain elevations of natural terrain features in addition to vegetation and cultural features such as buildings and roads.

DSM of Sycan River

DSM created from a mosaic of 160 images taken from approximately 400 feet above ground level over the Sycan River in the Klamath Basin in Oregon.

DSM of Platte River

DSM created from a mosaic of 900 images taken from approximately 200-400 feet above ground level with the Canon SX230 HS camera over the Platte River near Kearney, Nebraska on board the T-Hawk UAS.

DSM transect of Platte River

A transect path profile (shown in the previous image with a yellow line) showing measurements within a 3 foot vertical difference of the UAS derived DSM across the Platte River using the Global Mapper software.

An orthophoto is an undistorted aerial photograph with a completely uniform scale that allows it to function as a map. A significant amount of geometric correction, known as orthorectification, is required to bring about this high level of uniformity. High resolution imagery with ground sample distances of less than six inches can be derived from low-altitude UAS flights using commercial off-the-shelf cameras and computer vision (structure from motion) software.

Orthophoto of Sycan River

An orthophoto base map created from a mosaic of 160 images taken with the Canon s100 from approximately 400 feet above ground level over the Sycan River in the Klamath Basin in Oregon.

Orthophoto of Chase Lake

An orthophoto base image created for conducting waterfowl (pelican) census counts on the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Tappen, North Dakota. The mosaic was created from 265 images at 300 feet with the Sony ActionCam (still frame image capture).

Orthophoto of a Kentucky coalmine

An enlarged area of an orthophoto created over a Kentucky coal mining area using the T-Hawk UAS and the s100 Canon camera at 300-400 feet above ground level.

A unique capability for a camera conversion allows a low-cost method of capturing near-infrared imagery useful for vegetation analysis on low-altitude UAS aerial flights. The camera conversion involves utilizing a notch filter that blocks the low to mid red light range. The result is a camera sensor that detects the red (near infrared edge of the electromagnetic spectrum) centered around 690-720 nm near infrared, green, and blue.

Color orthophoto of Sycan River

A color infrared orthophoto base map created from a mosaic of 160 images taken with the Canon s100 color infrared converted camera from approximately 400 feet above ground level over the Sycan River in the Klamath Basin in Oregon.

Color orthophoto of Ruby Lake

A color infrared orthophoto base map image taken with the Canon SX 230HS camera from approximately 200 feet above ground level on board the T-Hawk UAS over the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada.

Color orthophoto of Topock Marsh

A color infrared image taken with the Canon s100 color infrared converted camera from approximately 400 feet above ground level over the Topock Marsh near Lake Havasu National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona.

Keyhole Markup Language (KML) is an XML notation for expressing geographic annotation and visualization within Internet-based, two-dimensional maps and three-dimensional Earth browsers. The KML file specifies a set of features (place marks, images, polygons, 3D models, textual descriptions, etc.) for display in Google Earth or any other geospatial software implementing the KML encoding.

KML of Sycan River

A color infrared orthophoto base map over the Sycan River in the Klamath Basin in Oregon converted to a Google Earth KML file format.

KML of Mill Lake

A natural color orthophoto image captured from approximately 300 feet from a Raven UAS with a GoPro camera with still frame image capture setting, processed into a ortho mosaic with the AgiSoft PhotoScan software and converted to the Google Earth KML file format.

KML of Kentucky coalmine

A digital elevation model created from 323 images taken from the Canon s100 camera from 200-300 feet above ground level on board the T-Hawk UAS over a coal mining area of Eastern Kentucky, and converted to the Google Earth KML file format.

3D modeling is the process of developing a mathematical representation of any three-dimensional surface of an object via specialized software. The product is called a 3D model. It can be displayed as a two-dimensional image through a process called 3D rendering.

3D model of Sycan River

A natural color orthophoto base map draped over a derived digital elevation model over the Sycan River in the Klamath Basin in Oregon.

3D model of Carrizo Plain

A natural color orthophoto draped over a derived digital elevation model in the Carrizo Plains area of California. The 3D model is created from 1534 images collected from the Raven UAS at approx. 300 feet above the ground level with the Sony ActionCam (still frame capture mode).

3D model of West Virginia coalmine

A natural color oblique model of a headwall derived from the Canon s100 camera onboard the T-Hawk UAS from approximately 200-300 feet in the coal mining area near Charleston, West Virginia.

A contour line (or "contour") joins points of equal elevation (height) above a given level, such as mean sea level. A contour map is a map illustrated with contour lines, for example a topographic map, which shows valleys and hills, and the steepness of slopes. The contour interval of a contour map is the difference in elevation between successive contour lines.

Contours of Kentucky coalmine

A 3-foot contour shaded elevation map derived from UAS imagery collected over mining stockpiles in an Eastern Kentucky coal mining area using the Canon s100 camera onboard the T-Hawk UAS from approximately 200-300 feet above the ground level.

Contours of West Virginia coalmine

A 50-foot contour dataset generated from stereo imagery collected from a Canon SX 230HS camera collected over a mining area in West Virginia using the T-Hawk UAS from approximately 400 feet above the ground level.

Contours of Platte River

A 3-foot contour dataset generated from stereo imagery collected from a Canon SX 230HS camera collected over the Platte River near Kearney Nebraska using the T-Hawk UAS from approximately 100-200 feet above the ground level.

There are many ways to calculate volumetric measurements over the earth surface and for landform management and various production processes. These have traditionally been accomplished through manual on-site measurements, surveying techniques, and through photogrammetric methods. The UAS offer another means of acquiring low-cost, and very high resolution aerial imagery in order to derive very accurate volumetric measurements.

Volumetric measurements of Kentucky coalmine

An elevation model derived using the Agisoft PhotoScan software is shown using 350 images collected over mining stockpiles in an Eastern Kentucky coal mining area using the Canon s100 camera onboard the T-Hawk UAS from approximately 200-300 feet above ground level.

Volumetric measurements of Kentucky coalmine

Accurate volumetric calculations can be derived and graphically displayed using the Global Mapping software and the elevation models created over the Eastern Kentucky coal mine stockpiles.

Volumetric measurements of Colorado coalmine

Volumetric calculations begin with good elevation models that can be derived from low-altitude UAS flights. This is a graphic display of the mining area located near Grand Junction, Colorado using the Falcon UAV and imagery collected from approx. 300-400 feet above ground level (images courtesy of Falcon UAV and the Mesa County Colorado Sheriff's Department).

A unique capability for a camera conversion allows a low-cost method of capturing near-infrared imagery useful for vegetation analysis on low-altitude UAS aerial flights. The conversion involves utilizing a notch filter that blocks the low to mid red light range. The result is a sensor that detects the red (near infrared edge of the electromagnetic spectrum) centered around 710-740 nm, green, and blue. NDVI calculations that create a standardized index utilizing the amount of infrared light that is reflected from a plant and has a strong correlation to the health of the plants imaged.

NDVI of Sycan River

An NDVI derived image from a mosaic of the near infrared aerial photography taken from approximately 400 feet above ground level over the Sycan River in the Klamath Basin in Oregon. A rainbow color ramp is applied to the indexed images. Traditionally, the bright red display of the color ramp indicates healthy or highly reflective plants and the blue color indicating the lower reflectivity and possibly less healthy vegetation.

NIR NDVI in West Virginia Black and White NDVI in West Virginia Color NDVI in West Virginia

The original near-infrared image mosaic and the NDVI image derived product from a Canon SX260 HS camera with the notch filter added, on board the T-Hawk UAS from a flight height of 400 feet above the ground.

NIR NDVI in Aurora Colorado NDVI in Aurora Colorado

The original near-infrared image mosaic and the NDVI image derived product collected with a Canon SX230 HS camera with the notch filter added, on board the Falcon UAV near Aurora, Colorado (images courtesy of Falcon UAV). Blue and green colored areas indicate where moisture is lacking or potential areas of grass stress before the human eye can detect.

Feature extraction is a method of automating the process of recognizing patterns within an image and outlining or classifying those features into a newly defined dataset. UAS low-altitude flights allow for this to be accomplished on a very large scale with the high resolution images enabling very accurate identification of features.

Feature extration of Joshua Trees

This extraction depicts geographic locations of Joshua Trees of the Mojave Desert (Joshua Tree National Park). The feature extraction was completed with Feature Analyst software. Utilizing the tree's unique spectral signature minimizes the need to manually digitize the features.

Feature extration of American White Pelicans

This image depicts the various geographic locations of nesting American White Pelicans at Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota. The red circles extracted are pelican nests, blue points depict cormorant nests, and black circles show gull and snowy egret (non-nesting) locations. This extraction was completed with Feature Analyst software using various target pattern sizes and masking techniques. Daily imaging of the island provides additional input to help determine established nesting locations.

Feature extration of shoreline

The Sycan River stream bank, a tributary of the Sprague River in southern Oregon, was extracted using Feature Analyst software for erosion monitoring and grazing studies. Polygonal samples of various water reflectivity were used to extract the overall outline of this stream bank feature.