Drone Remote Sensing & Mapping Course

The TerraLuma research group at the University of Tasmania are offering an intensive Drone Remote Sensing and Mapping Course on Monday and Tuesday the 22th and 23th May 2017. This is a face-to-face lecture-based course that will be held at the University of Tasmania. Please note that this event needs to be booked separately. This 2-day course will be offered just before the UAS4RS 2017 conference. The course will provide a strong foundation in remote sensing, specifically for UAS applications. We don’t assume any prior remote sensing knowledge. Even if you have been working with UAS for a while, you will get a lot out of the course as it will provide you with a deeper understanding of sensor data collection, processing, and interpretation. Participants should consider participating in the full combination of the 2-day course, the conferences, and the hands-on day as an excellent introduction into the exciting world of UAS remote sensing and mapping.

This course is suitable for:

  • ‘dabblers’: you’ve done some testing and think this technology might be the way forward for you.
  • ‘would-be dabblers’: you’ve heard the hype and you’re curious to know more.

Drone technology is maturing rapidly. New sensors and mapping techniques could provide much needed ultra-high resolution spatial data for informed decision-making, but…

  • What sensors can provide the best solution?
  • How should the data be processed?
  • What are the benefits of multi/hyperspectral, thermal sensors, cameras and laser scanners?
  • How can accurate 3D data be derived?
  • What is the most suitable software?
  • What accuracy can be achieved?
  • How can raw sensor data be related to real-world measurements?
  • What combination of drone airframes and sensors would best suit your application?

These and other questions require some knowledge in remote sensing and spatial sciences. This course offers foundational knowledge and practical skills you need to make the most of state-of-the-art drone technology.

Associate Professor Arko Lucieer, Dr Steve Harwin, and Dr Darren Turner will be the course instructors. You can find more about the TerraLuma research group at the University of Tasmania and the instructors here.


Monday 22 May 2017

Time Topic
09:00 – 09:50 Intro to drone remote sensing and mapping

  • Overview of the course and introduction of participants
  • Satellite and airborne Earth Observation (EO)
  • The power of remote sensing: what is it good at, and what are the limitations?
  • Opportunities and hurdles for UAS remote sensing and mapping
  • Australian regulations
10:00 – 10:50 Principles of remote sensing

  • Electromagnetic spectrum
  • Spectroscopy
  • Spatial, spectral, radiometric, and temporal resolution
10:50 – 11:20 Coffee/tea break
11:20 – 12:10 Airframes and flight controllers

  • Fixed-wing, multi-rotors, and hybrids
  • Flight controllers: DJI, Pixhawk, and others
  • Ground station hardware
  • Considerations for platform and flight controller selection
12:20 – 13:10 Sensors: overview

  • RGB cameras
  • Modified NIR cameras
  • Multispectral, hyperspectral, thermal, LiDAR sensors
13:10 – 14:00 Lunch
14:00 – 14:50 Coordinate systems and projections

  • Geographic and projected coordinate systems
  • Australian datums (GDA94, GDA2020)
  • Height datums (ellipsoidal height vs height above sea level)
  • Precision and accuracy
15:00 – 15:50 Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)

  • Principles of GNSS
  • GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou
  • Navigation grade, RTK, PPK, single/dual frequency
  • GNSS processing
  • Ground control point surveys
15:50 – 16:10 Coffee/tea break
16:10 – 17:00 Mission planning for aerial surveys

  • Flying height, areal extent, sensor field-of-view, spatial resolution
  • Camera settings (shutter speed, aperture, ISO)
  • Image overlap
  • Ground control point distribution
  • Mission planning tools and software


Tuesday 23 May 2017

Time Topic
09:00 – 09:50 Structure-from-Motion (SfM) and 3D point cloud generation

  • SfM, image feature matching, bundle adjustment
  • Dense matching, multi-view stereopsis
  • 3D point clouds from overlapping photographs
  • Processing steps
  • Important considerations for camera settings
  • The role of ground control points
10:00 – 10:50 Structure-from-Motion (SfM) products

  • Generating orthophoto mosaics through the SfM workflow
  • Derivation of digital surface models (DSM)
  • Difference between DSM, DEM, DTM, and CHM
  • Point cloud classification
10:50 – 11:20 Coffee/tea break
11:20 – 12:10 Multispectral and hyperspectral remote sensing

  • Importance of spectral information
  • Spectral signatures for typical surfaces
  • Importance of spectral resolution and band selection
  • Critical processing steps: from digital numbers to radiance to reflectance
  • Role and importance of spectral calibration panels
12:20 – 13:10 Vegetation indices

  • Principles of vegetation indices
  • Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)
  • NDVI common issues
  • Red Edge and other indices
13:10 – 14:00 Lunch
14:00 – 14:50 Thermal remote sensing

  • Principles of thermal remote sensing
  • Radiometric thermal sensors
  • Processing workflows
15:00 – 15:50 Airborne Laser Scanning (LiDAR)

  • Principles of LiDAR
  • Data processing workflows
  • LiDAR vs SfM, advantages and disadvantages of LiDAR
15:50 – 16:10 Coffee/tea break
16:10 – 17:00 Software and practical considerations

  • Photoscan, Pix4D, online processing services
  • GIS and remote sensing software, commercial and Open Source
  • Programming languages and libraries