A method for using unmanned aerial vehicles for emergency investigation of single geo-hazards and sample applications of this method
In recent years, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have become widely used in emergency investigations of major natural hazards over large areas; however, UAVs are less commonly employed to investigate single geo-hazards. Based on a number of successful investigations in the Three Gorges Reservoir area, China, a complete UAV-based method for performing emergency investigations of single geo-hazards is described. First, a customized UAV system that consists of a multi-rotor UAV subsystem, an aerial photography subsystem, a ground control subsystem and a ground surveillance subsystem is described in detail. The implementation process, which includes four steps, i.e., indoor preparation, site investigation, on-site fast processing and application, and indoor comprehensive processing and application, is then elaborated, and two investigation schemes, automatic and manual, that are used in the site investigation step are put forward. Moreover, some key techniques and methods – e.g., the layout and measurement of ground control points (GCPs), route planning, flight control and image collection, and the Structure from Motion (SfM) photogrammetry processing – are explained. Finally, three applications are given. Experience has shown that using UAVs for emergency investigation of single geo-hazards greatly reduces the time, intensity and risks associated with on-site work and provides valuable, high-accuracy, high-resolution information that supports emergency responses.