Development of Mini-UAV Based Mobile Mapping System

Shahram Moafipoor, Sudhagar Nagarajan, Lidia Bock and Jeff A. Fayman

Abstract: A major challenge to the wider utilization of UAVs, particularly in the civil air space, is flight safety, which requires real-time processing of large volumes of UAV sensor data and its conversion into actionable intelligence information for use in capabilities such as sense-and-avoid. Access to real-time maps, generated during flight, can be directly applied to this and other problems. In this paper, we discuss the theoretical foundations of an airborne mobile mapping payload for use on small UAV’s. The sensors used by the system include the Global Positioning System (GPS), Inertial Measurement Units (IMU), non-metric digital cameras, and laser scanners. The sensor payload is designed to automatically generate accurate, real-time 3D maps, which can then be used for capabilities including sense-and-avoid and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). We discuss our approach for direct-registration of captured images and laser point clouds. Direct-georeferencing utilizes calibration toolboxes for cameras, lasers, IMU’s, and the cross-calibration of the sensors. The use of image features and laser point clouds in the processing loop is found to improve direct-georeferencing accuracy by providing a constraint feedback to GPS/IMU integration. Additionally, the framework allows for updating navigation parameters using feedback from sensor data. We show that the integration of image data with the GPS/IMU, creates an image-aided inertial system that improves the direct-georeferencing accuracy and bridges the gap of navigation parameter updates during GPS-denied periods. This algorithm is a new paradigm in geo-registration and image/intelligence data processing, providing continuity and integrity of direct geo-registration in challenging environments. We discuss both the theoretical foundations for the system as well as the sensor abstraction architecture used in its implementation. We present a system performance analysis emphasizing the sequential adjustment, and tightly-coupled image assisted inertial calibration.
Published in: Proceedings of the 27th International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of The Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2014)
September 8 - 12, 2014
Tampa Convention Center
Tampa, Florida
Pages: 1812 - 1821
Cite this article: Moafipoor, Shahram, Nagarajan, Sudhagar, Bock, Lidia, Fayman, Jeff A., "Development of Mini-UAV Based Mobile Mapping System," Proceedings of the 27th International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of The Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2014), Tampa, Florida, September 2014, pp. 1812-1821.
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