AERIAL PROFILING OF TERRAIN SYSTEM (APTS), A LASER-INERTIAL AIRBORNE SURVEYOR

John W. Hursh

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: The Aerial Profiling of Terrain System (APTS) has been developed by The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory for the United States Department of the Interior Geological Survey to provide terrain profiling and other survey data at current accuracy standards with substantial savings in time and field work. Designed to operate in a relatively small aircraft such as the deHavilland Twin Otter, the APTS incorporates a three-gimbaled inertial platform to indicate the position of the aircraft in three coordinates. A two-axis laser tracker mounted on a common base acquires and follows prelocated retroreflectors in sequence, thereby supplying range and pointing information to update the navigator from ground truth. A laser profiler provides terrain clearance measurements which are combined with the highly accurate position data from the postflight data reduction to obtain ground profiles. An onboard computer with appropriate peripheral devices serves as system controller and data logger while navigating the aircraft during data collection activities. A video system featuring a color camera boresighted to the laser profiler records the image below the aircraft during profiling. Performance evaluation and survey application flights during the past year have confirmed the ability of APTS to achieve its positional design goal of * 15 cm in the vertical and + 60 cm in the horizontal coordinates. The paper outlines the considerations leading to the system configuration, describes the design and fabrication of the hardware and delineates the development of the real-time and postflight data reduction software. Performance evaluation testing and data are presented, together with planning and results of surveying application tests to date.
Published in: NAVIGATION, Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 32, Number 3
Pages: 282 - 299
Cite this article: Hursh, John W., "AERIAL PROFILING OF TERRAIN SYSTEM (APTS), A LASER-INERTIAL AIRBORNE SURVEYOR", NAVIGATION, Journal of The Institute of Navigation, Vol. 32, No. 3, Fall 1985, pp. 282-299.
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