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Drones/Quadcopters for Data Collection

Tips and tricks for data collection by aerial capture.

Processing

There are two major options to process your aerial images. One is outsourcing, and the other is processing by yourself. Outsourcing, for example uploading to online platforms like DroneDeploy (https://www.dronedeploy.com/) or Altizure (https://www.altizure.com/), saves time and energy. Although many of these software platforms provide free basic services, you often need to pay to process large quantities of images or to obtain high-accuracy results. If you choose to process your images by yourself, you will enjoy more freedom in adjusting different parameters during the processing procedure. In the meantime, you will need to go through the process of purchasing a photogrammetry software package, installing it on a relatively high-performance computer (these software packages often have high demand on computer CPU, memory, discs, graphic cards…), and learning to use the software before you can actually start working on a project. But don't be discouraged by our warnings. Some commonly used photogrammtery software packages are within a reasonable price range, particularly for academic users. Often they are also not difficult to learn. The software we recommend to use is Agisoft Photoscan Pro (educational license $549; http://agisoft.ca/). Others include Pix4D (https://pix4d.com/), PixElement (http://www.pixelement.com/), APS (http://www.menci.com/photogrammetry-software/aps-3d-maps-software) and etc (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_photogrammetry_software).

Tips for usiing Agisoft Photoscan Pro:

a. Follow the steps listed in the workflow tab to use basic functions.

b. important skills to learn

Import markers (ground control points) to optimize the model
Mask (exclude unwanted portions of images into the processing procedure, for example, the sky, landing gear of the drone, people, power lines….)
Batch process 

c. resources to learn more about the software 

User manual of Agisoft Photoscan: http://www.agisoft.com/pdf/photoscan-pro_1_2_en.pdf

YouTube videos!