Journal of the Bulgarian Geographical Society 48: 43-53, doi: 10.3897/jbgs.e89878
Accuracy assessment of high-resolution terrain data produced from UAV images georeferenced with on-board PPK positioning
expand article infoDavis Dinkov
‡ National Institute of Geophysics, Geodesy and Geography - Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria
Open Access

In recent years, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have increased rapidly and successfully established themselves as a tool for the rapid collection of high-resolution images as baseline data in land cover studies and topographic mapping. In photogrammetry using the SfM-MVS method of processing captured images, indirect georeferencing of the digital data through ground control points (GCPs) is usually applied. But selecting, marking, and coordinating GCPs in hardto-reach terrains is time-consuming and sometimes dangerous or impossible. The main objective of this study is to evaluate the accuracy of high-resolution topographic data (HRTD) products of photogrammetric processing of PPK-directly georeferenced images by SfM-MVS workflow. Direct and indirect methods of georeferencing digital products are compared. The planimetric and vertical root mean square error (RMSE) in the position of the validation points were calculated by the differences between measured coordinates in dense point clouds, orthophoto mosaics, and terrain surfaces (DSM), and precisely measured coordinates of the validation points by GNSSRTK receivers. The analysis is based on a statistical evaluation of experimental data obtained from a TAROT X6-based hexacopter equipped with two different image sensor configurations: 1) Sony RX0 action camera and 2) Sony A6000 mirrorless camera, and 3) DJI Phantom 4 Pro quadcopter with integrated additional L1-GNSS module for direct georeferencing by PPKmethod. HRTD generation was performed with three block control configurations for each UAV: 1) Indirect georeferencing via GCP only, 2) PPK direct georeferencing without GCP, and 3) PPK georeferencing using one GCP. Our research showed that when using L1-GNSS onboard receivers for PPK-georeferencing without any GCPs, the point cloud's planimetric accuracy (RMSExy) was from 0.125 to 0.231 cm, depending on the UAV/camera configuration. However, two flight missions produced significant vertical offsets, most likely due to ionospheric disturbances affecting the resolution of phase cycle ambiguities in the single-frequency receivers used. When adding one control point in the PPK georeferencing method, the planimetric and vertical accuracy of the data is comparable to the indirect GCP referencing method. Furthermore, our results show that camera properties (i.e., focal length, resolution, sensor quality) affect the quality and accuracy of digital products. The HRTDs were also evaluated according to the ASPRS (American Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing Society) Standards for Accuracy of Digital Geospatial Data. Analyzing the accuracy of the HRTDs obtained with the experimental UAV/camera configurations for the test area, the present study shows that the PPK-SfM-MVS workflow can provide quality data with a centimeters accuracy of the photogrammetric products.

Direct georeferencing, DSM, HRTD, orthomosaic, point cloud, structure from motion (SfM)