structure from motion, unmanned aerial vehicles, dam inspection, automated inspection, Multi-Scale, view-planning


This study presents a novel multi-scale view-planning algorithm for automated targeted inspection using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). In industrial inspection, it is important to collect the most relevant data to keep processing demands, both human and computational, to a minimum. This study investigates the viability of automated targeted multi-scale image acquisition for Structure from Motion (SfM)-based infrastructure modeling. A traditional view-planning approach for SfM is extended to a multi-scale approach, planning for targeted regions of high, medium, and low priority. The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) can traverse the entire aerial space and facilitates collection of an optimized set of views, both close to and far away from areas of interest. The test case for field validation is the Tibble Fork Dam in Utah. Using the targeted multi-scale flight planning, a UAV automatically flies a tiered inspection using less than 25% of the number of photos needed to model the entire dam at high-priority level. This results in approximately 75% reduced flight time and model processing load, while still maintaining high model accuracy where needed. Models display stepped improvement in visual clarity and SfM reconstruction integrity by priority level, with the higher priority regions more accurately modeling smaller and finer features. A resolution map of the final tiered model is included. While this study focuses on multi-scale view planning for optical sensors, the methods potentially extend to other remote sensors, such as aerial LiDAR.

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Peer-Reviewed Article

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Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Chemical Engineering

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor