Combining Nadir, Oblique, and Façade Imagery Enhances Reconstruction of Rock Formations Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Yu-Hsuan Tu, Kasper Johansen, Bruno Jose Luis Aragon Solorio, Bonny M. Stutsel, Yoseline Angel, Omar A. López Camargo, Samir K. M. Al-Mashharawi, Jiale Jiang, Matteo G. Ziliani, Matthew McCabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Developments in computer vision, such as structure from motion and multiview stereo reconstruction, have enabled a range of photogrammetric applications using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)-based imagery. However, some specific cases still present reconstruction challenges, including survey areas composed of steep, overhanging, or vertical rock formations. Here, the suitability and geometric accuracy of four UAV-based image acquisition and data processing scenarios for topographic surveying applications in complex terrain are assessed and compared. The specific cases include the use of: 1) nadir imagery; 2) nadir and oblique imagery; 3) nadir and façade imagery; and 4) nadir, oblique, and façade imagery to reconstruct a topographically complex natural surface. Results illustrate that including oblique and façade imagery to supplement the more traditional nadir collections significantly improves the geometric accuracy of point cloud data reconstruction by approximately 35% when assessed against terrestrial laser scanning data of near-vertical rock walls. Most points (99.41%) had distance errors of less than 50 cm between the point clouds derived from the nadir imagery and nadir-oblique-façade imagery. Apart from delivering enhanced spatial resolution in façade details, the geometric accuracy improvements achieved from integrating nadir, oblique, and façade imagery provide value for a range of applications, including geotechnical and geohazard investigations. Such gains are particularly relevant for studies assessing rock integrity and stability, and engineering design, planning, and construction, where information on the position of rock cracks, joints, faults, shears, and bedding planes may be required.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
StatePublished - 2021


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