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Technical note: optimization of unmanned aerial vehicles flight planning in steep terrains

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We present an approach to manage Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) photogrammetric data acquisition in areas with steep slopes, i.e., typical conditions of high mountain environments prone to slope instabilities and potentially to catastrophic failures. Starting from the Mission Planner from Ardupilot, an open access and widely used UAV flight planning software, we have developed a set of Matlab™ routines to take into account available topographic relief of the area under investigation. We validated our approach in the Swiss Alps, in a steep slope area where very high-resolution digital models and orthophotos are necessary to analyze fracture surface geometries in detail and to better understand the exfoliation fracture processes. Our results provide a best-practice solution to generate very high-resolution photogrammetric products and can be applied in different UAV mapping tasks and/or monitoring scenarios.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Earth Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland

Publication date: April 3, 2019

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