Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Ben Conklin disusses unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and how they are used to collect full-motion video for analysis.

Jul 23rd, 2012

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00:01Imagery can be collected from many different platforms.

00:03One of the new trends is UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles.

00:08We often think of these as the large, expensive military drones, but they also come in more personal sizes...

00:15...like this UAV, this lightweight plane out of New Zealand from AeroHawk.

00:20With the help of my colleague Liz Sarow, imagine the power of your own UAV to monitor the progress...

00:27...of a highway construction project in New Zealand, flying below the clouds, low altitude, high-resolution orthophotography.

00:37Flown on demand, launched from your hands and recovered by a parachute, measuring progress...

00:43...generating 3D terrain models, and quantifying the change.

00:49UAVs are increasingly being used internationally.

00:51However, the FAA is still working through safety guidelines before we can legally fly them in the United States.

00:58But that does not stop us from collecting imagery in the US with piloted planes and helicopters.

01:05So up next with a look at aerial full-motion video, please welcome Ben Conklin.

01:15Thank you, John.

01:17Last week, I was given access to an aircraft to fly a full-motion video collection mission.

01:22We decided to fly some key areas in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming.

01:28As a result of that flight, we captured more than two hours of full-motion video...

01:32...covering about 8,000 square kilometers on the ground.

01:36In order to work with this video inside of ArcGIS, we're going to use the new full-motion video add-in, which is available now.

01:43This add-in lets us manage all the video from our flight.

01:47For example, we flew some video of the burn areas west of Fort Collins from the recent Colorado wildfires.

01:53You can see how this video might be useful for performing damage assessments, especially in remote areas.

02:00We also flew some video of the agricultural fields to the north of Fort Collins.

02:05Full-motion video like this is typically collected from unmanned aerial vehicles, but like in this case...

02:09...you can mount these sensors on other aircraft, like a typical piloted aircraft and possibly even media or police helicopters...

02:16...making this kind of video capture more available in the future.

02:22We also captured some thermal IR video of a chemical facility in Cheyenne.

02:27As we take a look at this chemical facility, let's see how we actually can begin to integrate this video into our GIS.

02:33So you notice there's a couple of key pieces of information which is captured as we're playing back the video.

02:38We can see the location of the aircraft, and then the footprint on the ground of the area covered by the video.

02:43The reason we have this information, is actually captured as part of the video stream, is MISB-compliant metadata.

02:49So it's actually part of the video stream that, as we're playing it back, we grab that information, and we can place it on the map.

02:57So now that we have this information, let's actually see how we could exploit it inside of ArcGIS.

03:02So we're going to zoom in on our facility map, and we'll go to a section of the video that has some new information in it.

03:09So we can see here that our facility map is missing a couple features, specifically those containers which we see in the yard.

03:15So we're going to capture the location of those containers, using our standard editing tools.

03:21So I'm going to go ahead and capture the location of that green container that we see in the video.

03:25But instead of digitizing on the map, I'm actually going to digitize directly on the video.

03:33You notice as soon as I finish my sketch, that green container has now been added to our facility map.

03:40Yeah, pretty cool.

03:44Let's go and collect one more feature, so you can see how that works again.

03:46We're going to capture that red container.

03:48So again, I'm going to digitize directly on the video, finish my sketch, and it's added to the map.

03:55While I'm looking at this video, I notice a couple of fuel trucks sitting here in the parking lot.

04:00Let's go ahead and capture the location of those trucks.

04:03Since these are standard ArcGIS features, we can use all of our analysis tools against them.

04:08In this case, I'm just going to calculate a simple buffer showing the fire safety area around the trucks.

04:14Now that we have that information, let's take a closer look at our video and see if we see any suspicious activity.

04:19So we see a white pickup truck, and it's driving towards the gate.

04:24And in front of the gate, we can see a guard walking back and forth.

04:28We're going to go ahead and take a closer look at that guard.

04:33Seems like he might be engaged in some unsafe activity...not quite sure what it is.

04:38Let's switch over to that thermal IR.

04:41Now we can see it a little bit better.

04:43He's got something glowing in his hand, he's walking...might be some kind of heat source; maybe he's taking a puff on a cigarette.

04:53Oh, my gosh, did you guys see that?

04:55Did you see that?

04:56He flicked his cigarette on the ground, right next to all those fuel trucks.


05:01You guys saw that, right?

05:02Let's look at it again. Let's take another look.

05:04Alright, alright.

05:06Peel your eyes, take a real close look.

05:08Something's glowing in his hand, he takes a puff, flicks his cigarette onto the ground.

05:17Crazy, right?

05:18So this is actually pretty cool.

05:20We can see this little cigarette in this guy's hand when we're flying at a mile over the ground, and because of the GIS...

05:25...we know why that's dangerous.

05:27We know about those fuel trucks on the other side of the fence.

05:29So it's a pretty simple example, but you can see the power of bringing the full-motion video into our GIS...

05:36...where we can use our standard tools for feature collection and analysis and ultimately make better decisions.

05:41And we've also seen, watch where you take your smoke breaks.

05:44Thanks. Back to you, John.

05:50Thanks, Ben, and thanks to L-3 for letting us borrow their plane, which is now flying somewhere over Florida.

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