3D tree dimensionality assessment using photogrammetry and small unmanned aerial vehicles

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Demetrios GatziolisNikolay S Strigul


Detailed, precise, three-dimensional (3D) representations of individual trees are a prerequisite for an accurate assessment of tree competition, growth, and morphological plasticity. Until recently, our ability to measure the dimensionality, spatial arrangement, shape of trees, and shape of tree components with precision has been constrained by technological and logistical limitations and cost. Traditional methods of forest biometrics provide only partial measurements and are labor intensive. Active remote technologies such as LiDAR operated from airborne platforms provide only partial crown reconstructions. The use of terrestrial LiDAR is laborious, has portability limitations and high cost. In this work we capitalized on recent improvements in the capabilities and availability of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), light and inexpensive cameras, and developed an affordable method for obtaining precise and comprehensive 3D models of trees and small groups of trees. The method employs slow-moving UAVs that acquire images along predefined trajectories near and around targeted trees, and computer vision-based approaches that process the images to obtain detailed tree reconstructions. After we confirmed the potential of the met...Continue Reading

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