Mapping with MAV: Experimental Study on the Contribution of Absolute and Relative Aerial Position Control
This study highlights the benefit of precise aerial position control in the context of mapping using frame-based imagery taken by small UAVs. We execute several flights with a custom Micro Aerial Vehicle (MAV) octocopter over a small calibration field equipped with 90 signalized targets and 25 ground control points. The octocopter carries a consumer grade RGB camera, modified to insure precise GPS time stamping of each exposure, as well as a multi-frequency/constellation GNSS receiver. The GNSS antenna and camera are rigidly mounted together on a one-axis gimbal that allows control of the obliquity of the captured imagery. The presented experiments focus on including absolute and relative aerial control. We confirm practically that both approaches are very effective: the absolute control allows omission of ground control points while the relative requires only a minimum number of control points. Indeed, the latter method represents an attractive alternative in the context of MAVs for two reasons. First, the procedure is somewhat simplified (e.g. the lever-arm between the camera perspective and antenna phase centers does not need to be determined) and, second, its principle allows employing a single-frequency antenna and carrier-phase GNSS receiver. This reduces the cost of the system as well as the payload, which in turn increases the flying time.