Mapping coral reefs using consumer-grade drones and structure from motion photogrammetry techniques

Casella, Elisa, Collin, Antoine, Harris, Daniel, Ferse, Sebastian, Bejarano, Sonia, Parravicini, Valeriano, Hench, James L. and Rovere, Alessio (2017) Mapping coral reefs using consumer-grade drones and structure from motion photogrammetry techniques. Coral Reefs, 36 1: 269-275. doi:10.1007/s00338-016-1522-0


Author Casella, Elisa
Collin, Antoine
Harris, Daniel
Ferse, Sebastian
Bejarano, Sonia
Parravicini, Valeriano
Hench, James L.
Rovere, Alessio
Title Mapping coral reefs using consumer-grade drones and structure from motion photogrammetry techniques
Journal name Coral Reefs   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0722-4028
1432-0975
Publication date 2017-03-01
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s00338-016-1522-0
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 36
Issue 1
Start page 269
End page 275
Total pages 7
Place of publication Heidelberg, Germany
Publisher Springer Verlag
Formatted abstract
We propose a novel technique to measure the small-scale three-dimensional features of a shallow-water coral reef using a small drone equipped with a consumer-grade camera, a handheld GPS and structure from motion (SfM) algorithms. We used a GoPro HERO4 with a modified lens mounted on a DJI Phantom 2 drone (maximum total take-off weight <2 kg) to perform a 10 min flight and collect 306 aerial images with an overlap equal or greater than 90%. We mapped an area of 8380 m2, obtaining as output an ortho-rectified aerial photomosaic and a bathymetric digital elevation model (DEM) with a resolution of 0.78 and 1.56 cm pixel−1, respectively. Through comparison with airborne LiDAR data for the same area, we verified that the location of the ortho-rectified aerial photomosaic is accurate within ~1.4 m. The bathymetric difference between our DEM and the LiDAR dataset is −0.016 ± 0.45 m (1σ). Our results show that it is possible, in conditions of calm waters, low winds and minimal sun glint, to deploy consumer-grade drones as a relatively low-cost and rapid survey technique to produce multispectral and bathymetric data on shallow-water coral reefs. We discuss the utility of such data to monitor temporal changes in topographic complexity of reefs and associated biological processes.
Keyword Bathymetry from drones
Bathymetry from photogrammetry
Coral reefs
Drone mapping
Structure from motion underwater
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Earth Sciences Publications
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Created: Wed, 25 Jan 2017, 12:27:33 EST by Ms Kate Rowe on behalf of Learning and Research Services (UQ Library)