TERRAIN AWARE IMAGE CLIPPING FOR REAL-TIME AERIAL MAPPING
Many remote sensing applications demand for a fast and efficient way of generating orthophoto maps from raw aerial images. One prerequisite is direct georeferencing, which allows to geolocate aerial images to their geographic position on the earth’s surface. But this is only half the story. When dealing with a large quantity of highly overlapping images, a major challenge is to select the most suitable image parts in order to generate seamless aerial maps of the captured area. This paper proposes a method that quickly determines such an optimal (rectangular) section for each single aerial image, which in turn can be used for generating seamless aerial maps. Its key approach is to clip aerial images depending on their geometric intersections with a terrain elevation model of the captured area, which is why we call it terrain aware image clipping (TAC). The method has a modest computational footprint and is therefore applicable even for rather limited embedded vision systems. It can be applied for both, real-time aerial mapping applications using data links as well as for rapid map generation right after landing without any postprocessing step. Referring to real-time applications, this method also minimizes transmission of redundant image data. The proposed method has already been demonstrated in several search-and-rescue scenarios and real-time mapping applications using a broadband data link and diffent kinds of camera and carrier systems. Moreover, a patent for this technology is pending.