There is a lot of software available for viewing and processing imagery that is collected from the air with unmanned aerial systems (UAS). One of the market leaders is Pix4D. Located in western Switzerland on the shores of Lake Geneva and founded by Christoph Strecha, this company brings together computer vision and multi-ray photogrammetry to provide software that allows you to, amongst other things, create 3D models based on the imagery taken from a UAS.
We downloaded an evaluation copy of the software and processed through a sample of our data to give the kids a feeling for how it works. The model that was generated is comprised of about 1,000,000 3-dimensional points (referred to collectively as a 'point cloud') that have actual X, Y and Z coordinates and are colored based on the source imagery. You can move through the point cloud, take measurements and extract data from it. Mapping companies do this sort of thing regularly.
The clip below is a TATTS team member - Mitchell - interacting with the point cloud within Pix4D. You gotta love his excitement. Notice in the beginning the 20 or so images that are floating in the air. Those are the pictures taken from our hexarotor. Notice too that when he clicks on the ground the red lines show which images can see that particular point. You need at least 2 images to have the same point in order to generate a 3D model.
Interestingly, if you zoom in tight enough, the individual points in the point cloud look like small blocks. Guess what game that reminded him of? Watch the video and you'll see.
Here is a screen shot from Pix4Dof the point cloud.
We submitted an abstract to the Wisconsin Land Information Association (WLIA) conference to tell the amazing story of what our kids accomplished as part of the TATTS Project. The conference organizers liked the idea so much they asked if we'd present it as a keynote to all 500+ attendees (city/county/state employees, educators, utilities, and engineeering/survyeing/mapping companies all interested in using GIS to understand our world).
The presentation was wonderfully received.We covered the issues of autism and employment, drone/UAS technology, and how the two can be combined to help visual thinkers with social skills like perspective taking.
It's 50+ minutes long so if you don't have that much time, jump to around 27-30 minute marks and see the kids get introduced. Several were at the presentation (skipped out of school) and took a bow as the crowd applauded. It was awesome!
Professional Surveyor Magazine has published an article on the TATTS project that showcases all the great things that the TATTS team accomplished this summer. It is written toward surveying and mapping professionals and includes some lessons learned that they can incorporate into their business as they consider using unmanned aerial systems (UAS) such as our hexarotor. You gotta love a bunch of kids teaching professionals how to leverage new technology...
I had the honor of keynoting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's GIS Day on November 20th, 2013. GIS Day is an annual event held throughout the world to promote Geographic Information Systems and geographic awareness. This year's event was sponsored by the UW-Madison GeoSpatial Alliance, held at the UW's Institute for Science and Discovery, and attended by approximately 100-150 people from both the local area and other universities such as UW-Eau Claire.
My talk focused on the emerging marketing of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) of which the hexarotor we built is one type of UAS. The presentation was oriented toward professionals and collect students who utilize GIS technology for mapping and analysis. Many of them were students in environmental sciences, geography or related disciplines.
One primary aspect I focused on was what amazing things the TATTS team did throughout the summer of 2013. I used a handful of our videos and photomosaics to show what is possible. I was so pleased to see how engaged the audience was and impressed by what great things are possible by our kids!