International Journal of
Physical Sciences

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Phys. Sci.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1992-1950
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJPS
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 2557

Full Length Research Paper

A simulation study on the capabilities of rotor wing unmanned aerial vehicle in aerial terrain mapping

Khairul Nizam Tahar1* and Anuar Ahmad2
1Department of Surveying Science and Geomatics, Faculty of Architecture, Planning and Surveying Universiti Teknologi MARA, 40450 Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia. 2Department of Geoinformatics, Faculty of Geoinformation and Real Estate, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, 81310 UTM Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 03 January 2012
  •  Published: 16 February 2012


Many applications can be solved by using the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology such as farming, surveillance, monitoring, fire disaster, flood monitoring and aerial terrain mapping. This study was carried out to investigate the use of light weight rotary-wing UAV for mapping simulation model. The accuracy of photogrammetric product will be assessed as one of the objectives of this study. There are two types of UAV units known as rotor wing and fixed-wing. Based on few studies, rotor wing units are more stable and are able to capture images easily. It allows remote control UAV to be practiced in the environment and urban mapping. In the simulation model, ground control points (GCP) and checked point (CP) were established using total station. The GCP is used in the photogrammetric processes to produce photogrammetric output while the CP is used for accuracy assessment. This study also used a low cost digital camera in image acquisition to capture the aerial image of a simulated model. Two methods were implemented in this study. In the first method, the camera was mounted vertically at a fixed height on the simulated model. In the second method, the camera was mounted vertically; it was then attached at the bottom of rotary-wing UAV and the images were captured at an altitude. The productions of digital orthophoto and digital elevation model of the simulated model were obtained after the acquired images were processed using the photogrammetric software. Based on the finding, the root mean square errors (RMSEs) for fixed platform are ±0.002, ±0.001 and ±0.214 for coordinate x, y and z, respectively while the RMSE for UAV platform are ±0.002, ±0.002 and ±0.223 for coordinate x, y and z, respectively. It can be concluded that the differences between the mobile and fixed platforms are small. In conclusion, UAV system can be used for large scale mapping of aerial terrain mapping.


Key words: Mobile mapping, non-metric, digital elevation models (DEM), photogrammetry, simulation.