Title

Integration of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Photogrammetry into Civil Engineering Courses

Poster Number

5

Lead Author Affiliation

MSES Civil Engineering Concentration

Lead Author Status

Masters Student

Second Author Affiliation

Civil Engineering

Second Author Status

Faculty

Third Author Affiliation

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Third Author Status

Faculty

Introduction

The purpose of this project was to develop educational materials to integrate unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology into the civil engineering curriculum. In future courses students will collect aerial images using a UAV and use the images to produce maps that can be imported into geographic information systems (GIS) and computer aided design (CAD) software.

Purpose

The proposed activity is important because it’s essential for civil engineers to be proficient with mapping and current technology. Surveying has historically been part of civil engineering and has included aerial photogrammetry. The advent of UAV technology offers a more convenient and less expensive method for using aerial photogrammetry. Civil engineers can use UAVs to advance mapping techniques and to collect and analyze geo-referenced data more efficiently. In addition to introducing relevant technology into coursework, we believe this project will provide meaningful educational experiences that literally get students out of the classroom and into “real world” applications. This type of project also cultivates technical proficiency in students.

Method

As part of the project we researched aerial photogrammetry concepts and terminology, found examples of interesting and useful applications, and reviewed available UAV technology and software. In particular, a review of third party software packages was conducted. A UAV flight of the Calaveras River was conducted under the direction of an FAA-certified drone pilot (Niraj Chaudhary) and the images collected were subsequently used to create a map. The educational module was developed and tested using faculty and students as evaluators.

Results

Based on a review of the software, we found that the open-source software 3DF Zephyr was a good choice although the commercial DroneDeploy software was easiest to use. The educational materials were developed assuming that the university’s existing UAV (Phantom 4 Pro+) would be used along with the 3DF Zephyr software since the DroneDeploy software is currently incompatible with this UAV. We found that a good flight plan is essential for developing a complete map and that the Calaveras River presents some challenges in how the software interprets the water surface. In the future we recommend purchase of a new drone and an academic license for DroneDeploy in order to provide a successful experience for undergraduate students. In more advanced courses, students can use a camera calibration toolbox in Matlab to correct images and manually mosaic the images in GIS software, creating their own maps using ground control points located with traditional surveying methods.

Significance

The information obtained and results of the software evaluation were captured into the educational module that will be used in Fall Semester 2019 in the course CIVL 151 – Heavy Construction Methods. Use of UAVs for aerial photogrammetry has many applications in the construction industry. For example, UAVs are used to map stockpiled materials on-site to estimate quantities of cut and fill materials. Such estimates are used to order transport of fill materials, plan for export of excess fill, and estimate payment quantities. Students in the CIVL 151 course and in other courses will benefit from learning about UAVs and aerial photogrammetry. Rollout of the new content will be assessed by pre- and post-activity student surveys.

Location

DeRosa University Center

Format

Poster Presentation

Poster Session

Afternoon

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Apr 27th, 12:30 PM Apr 27th, 2:30 PM

Integration of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Photogrammetry into Civil Engineering Courses

DeRosa University Center

The purpose of this project was to develop educational materials to integrate unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology into the civil engineering curriculum. In future courses students will collect aerial images using a UAV and use the images to produce maps that can be imported into geographic information systems (GIS) and computer aided design (CAD) software.