FIELD ACCURACY TEST OF RPAS PHOTOGRAMMETRY
Baseline Surveys Ltd is a company which specialises in the supply of accurate geospatial data, such as cadastral, topographic and engineering survey data to commercial and government bodies. Baseline Surveys Ltd invested in aerial drone photogrammetric technology and had a requirement to establish the spatial accuracy of the geographic data derived from our unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) photogrammetry before marketing our new aerial mapping service. Having supplied the construction industry with survey data for over 20 years, we felt that is was crucial for our clients to clearly understand the accuracy of our photogrammetry so they can safely make informed spatial decisions, within the known accuracy limitations of our data. This information would also inform us on how and where UAV photogrammetry can be utilised.
What we wanted to find out was the actual accuracy that can be reliably achieved using a UAV to collect data under field conditions throughout a 2 Ha site. We flew a UAV over the test area in a "lawnmower track" pattern with an 80% front and 80% side overlap; we placed 45 ground markers as check points and surveyed them in using network Real Time Kinematic Global Positioning System (RTK GPS). We specifically designed the ground markers to meet our accuracy needs. We established 10 separate ground markers as control points and inputted these into our photo modelling software, Agisoft PhotoScan. The remaining GPS coordinated check point data were added later in ArcMap to the completed orthomosaic and digital elevation model so we could accurately compare the UAV photogrammetry XYZ data with the RTK GPS XYZ data at highly reliable common points. The accuracy we achieved throughout the 45 check points was 95% reliably within 41 mm horizontally and 68 mm vertically and with an 11.7 mm ground sample distance taken from a flight altitude above ground level of 90 m.The area covered by one image was 70.2 m × 46.4 m, which equals 0.325 Ha. This finding has shown that XYZ data derived from UAV photogrammetry has a similar practical accuracy to RTK GPS, which is commonly used for cadastral, topographic and engineering survey work. This means that UAV photogrammetry can, for the most part, replace GPS surveying as the main method of data capture for engineering projects, boundary mapping and topographical surveying. Aerial Photogrammetry, in conjunction with RTK GPS, can now be used for projects with a 1:200 map scale accuracy requirement.