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Best Practices and Lessons Learned in using Low-Cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Assessing Erosion
Proceedings of the 2019 Mississippi Water Resources Conference
Year: 2019 Authors: Czarnecki J., Ramirez-Avila J., Linhoss A., Schauwecker T., Hathcock L.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are promoted as an efficient, low-cost tool for aerial survey. This includes not only traditional aerial photography, but also creation of digital surface models. The process, referred to as "structure from motion", has received attention in recent years as a replacement for other field survey techniques such as LiDAR and terrain laser scanning. We collected UAV images with large overlap between successive images over a two-year period to perform structure from motion analysis and monitoring of erosion. The goal of this research effort was to determine the limitations to the technology and the accuracy obtainable. The output of this research effort was best practice guidance for new users of the technology. As a summary of our results, we concluded that UAV images are capable of providing spatially-explicit, fine- to medium-temporal scale data. The output was advantageous for hydraulic models, offering more detailed channel geometry, as well as guidance on friction coefficients. The biggest impediment to accuracy was dense vegetative cover.