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Aerial photography obtained by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is a rising market for their civil application. Small UAVs are believed to close gaps in niche markets, such as acquiring airborne image data for remote sensing purposes. Small UAVs can fly at low altitudes, in dangerous environments, and over long periods of time. However, their small lightweight construction leads to new problems, such as higher agility and more susceptibility to turbulence, which has a big impact on the quality of the data and their suitability for aerial photography. This paper investigates the use of fish-eye lenses to overcome field-of-view (FOV) issues for highly agile UAV platforms susceptible to turbulence. The fish-eye lens has the benefit of a large observation area (large FOV) and does not add additional weight to the aircraft, such as traditional mechanical stabilizing systems. We present the implementation of a fish-eye lens for aerial photography and mapping purposes, with potential use in remote sensing applications. We describe a detailed investigation from the fish-eye lens distortion to the registering of the images. Results of the process are presented using low-quality sensors typically found on small UAVs. The system was flown on a midsize platform (a more stable Cessna aircraft) and also on ARCAA's small (<10 kg) UAV platform. The effectiveness of the approach is compared for the two sized platforms.
Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:47 , Issue: 3 )
Date of Publication: March 2009