Manual geo-rectification to improve the spatial accuracy of ortho-mosaics based on images from consumer-grade unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

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Saiful Azim, Jesper Rasmussen, Jon Nielsen, René Gislum, Morten Stigaard Laursen, Svend Christensen

The global spatial accuracy of ortho-mosaics based on images from consumer-grade unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is relatively low. The use of ground control points (GCPs) improves the accuracy but it requires RTK-GNSS (global navigation satellite system) measurements in the field. The objective of this study was to evaluate manual geo-rectification after ortho-mosaicking as a cost-effective alternative to GCPs or UAVs equipped with RTK-GNSS. Google Earth images and A-B lines used for tractor auto-steering were used for manual geo-rectification with a free geographic information system (GIS) and remote-sensing (RS) software (QGIS). Two different photogrammetry software (Agisoft Photoscan and Pix4DMapper) were used for ortho-mosaicking. Images were captured in three fields at two altitudes (40 and 80 m) with a multi-rotor camera drone equipped with a GNSS without ground reference (Phantom 4). The results showed that flight altitude and photogrammetry software had no impact on the spatial accuracy and that manual geo-rectification significantly improved the spatial accuracy. Root mean squares (RMSEs) for ortho-mosaics without geo-rectification was in the range of 4 to 28 m and the range was 0.6 to 2.5 m and 0.5 to 1.1 m for geo-rectification based on Google Earth images and A-B-lines, respectively. RTK-GNSS tagged UAV images and the use of GCPs gave average RMSEs of less than 0.1 m. It was concluded that manual geo-rectification offers a feasible alternative to GCPs and UAVs with RTK-GNSS when spatial accuracy of about 1 m is acceptable.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPrecision Agriculture
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019

ID: 215786530