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mapKITE Report Summary

Project ID: 641518
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.1.6.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - mapKITE (EGNOS-GPS/GALILEO-based high-resolution terrestrial-aerial sensing system.)

Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2016-05-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project


- The first objective of mapKITE is to build a mature prototype (TRL 7) of a new surveying paradigm: a tandem terrestrial-aerial mobile mapping system (geodata acquisition and post-mission processing). The carriers of the system shall be a terrestrial vehicle (TV) and an unmanned aircraft (UA) both equipped with remote sensing, navigation and communication payloads. The UA will be slaved to the TV: it will follow the TV at a constant flying height above ground, while geodata (aerial images and other data) are acquired simultaneously from the TV and the UA. The TV shall carry a precision optical pointing target on its roof. The geodata will be post-processed under a new orientation-calibration concept to deliver high-resolution, oriented-calibrated and integrated images of corridors and their environment.

- The second mapKITE objective is to define and demonstrate mapKITE sustainable services; i.e., the technical/commercial feasibility of the proposed mapping (acquisition and post-processing) concept.

- The third objective of mapKITE is to develop the mapKITE market: at the end of the project, contracts or negotiations shall be in place so the prototype can be operated by skilled personnel and revenues are generated to sustain the further development of the system.


From an application standpoint, mapKITE targets corridor mapping and is also applicable to environmental, surveillance and disaster management applications. The concept can be described as a terrestrial-aerial high-accuracy, high-resolution surveying (Earth observation) system that combines the advantages of terrestrial and airborne (manned or unmanned) mobile mapping systems and that leverages EGNOS and the unique features of the Galileo signals, like E5 AltBOC(15,10). MapKITE responds to market needs and trends identified by the geo-information stakeholders in the consortium and many geoinformation end users.

From a business perspective, some mapping companies are already offering geodata acquired in independent terrestrial (mapping vans) and aerial surveys (manned aircraft) respectively. While terrestrial mobile mapping systems are becoming a standard tool, their limited and insufficient "view" from ground is becoming apparent to users. On the other side, mapping of small areas from small unmanned aircraft is a reality and the big manufacturers and players of geomatic technology have included UA systems in the range of 0.5 to 5 kg in their portfolios. mapKITE proposes for first time the simultaneous operation of both mapping strategies, to produce a 'total-point-of-view' in terms of geodata, and a highly redundant and rich network of navigation and remote sensing measurement to be exploited together."

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

"Work Performed

Within the project mapKITE, several work threads have been developed:

* User Requirements have been identified and validated. This task, lead by a mapping service company as TopScan, has faced the contact with several stakeholders in the mapping community -from consortium partners to interested groups- to present the main technological and operational aspects of the proposed system, and therefore unveil its potential for specific needs of the consulted party. This work has been compiled in deliverable D2.1, which has been iterated two times coherently with the multiple-iteration procedure in mapKITE.

* A survey of the state of the art has been carried tackling the key technologies involved in mapKITE. Lead by the TopoLab group of EPFL, this survey has identified the trends, realities and drawbacks of the current sensors and systems used in unmanned aerial systems and terrestrial mobile mappings, mainly among the navigation, orientation and imaging fields. This work has been presented in deliverable D2.2, which has been iterated two times coherently with the multiple-iteration procedure in mapKITE.

* A Technical Feasibility Analysis has been carried out by comparing the previous actions, that is, the state of the art and the user requirements. Lead by GeoNumerics, specialists in geomatic applications, this work has firstly identified the technical requirements out of the user requirements, and then has assessed what of the state-of-the-art technologies are compliant to those requirements. Several recomendations for the mapKITE system and operations have been derived, and the result has been compiled in deliverable D2.3, which has been iterated two times coherently with the multiple-iteration procedure in mapKITE.

* The architecture of the mapKITE system has been designed to produce a detailed view of the various sensors and systems to be included in mapKITE, and the necessary interactions among them. Lead by UAVision, the provider of the unmanned aerial system in mapKITE, this task has enabled the identification of the level of maturity for each sub-system, as well as the effort to be put in integration. It has provided a clear picture to the consortium about the actions to be taken for a successful system built-up. The outcome of this work has been presented in deliverable D3.1, which has been iterated two times coherently with the multiple-iteration procedure in mapKITE.

* The various sub-systems in mapKITE have been developed -partly or totally- to reach the common goal of final full-system integration and operation. These sub-systems are the virtual tether software (deliverable D4.1), the orientation and calibration post-processing concept (deliverable D4.2), the unmanned aerial vehicle (deliverable D4.3), the Galileo E1/E5 receiver (deliverable 4.4), the generic navigation post-processing concept (deliverable 4.5), the optical target feature extraction concept (deliverable 4.6) and the target-tracking-based navigation (deliverable 4.7).

* Integration of the various sub-systems has been carried out both in the aerial and terrestrial platforms, that is, the Galileo E1/E5 receiver, the mapping and target-tracking cameras and on-board computers, the geodetic grade GNSS receivers and inertial measurement units, the optical target on the terrestrial vehicle, and the Traffic Collision Avoidance System. All interfaces and integration issues have been addressed and solved to materialize a 'ready-to-operate' system, following the development plan (firstly, the demonstrator, and then, the prototype). The outcome of this work has been presented in deliverable D5.1, which has been iterated two times coherently with the multiple-iteration procedure in mapKITE.

* An exhaustive testing plan has been designed to cover the various elements and coherent with development layers in the project. Firstly, a test plan for the sub-systems was elaborated (deliverable D6.1) to validate the atomic parts of the full system (the "mapKITE demonstrator"). Secondly, a new test plan to validate the first integration of all components (the "mapKITE prototype") was produced (deliverable D6.3).

* As a follow-up from the test plan actions, two test reports (deliverables D6.2 and D6.4) have been produced to compile the main results of the validation items in the test plan, and extract lessons to be applied for further development cycles within the project.

In relation to the management activities carried out along the project, we highlight the establishment and operation of the project webpage (, the elaboration of a report about the main communication activities, the project plan and team set-up and quality management plan.


As most important achievements in this first reporting period, we report about an increase in the completion degree of the three main project objectives.

Firstly, we have built and operate a full-fledged mapKITE prototype, including interfaced terrestrial vehicle and unmanned aerial vehicle and navigation and imaging sensors. This achievements is the final step in a chain of small successful steps entailing sub-system development, testing and validation. The outcome of these achievements has been documented in Test Report 2 (deliverable D6.4).

Secondly, the mapKITE prototype has been operated and mapKITE-like quality geodata has been acquired. These data has been processed following the post-processing chain development along the process to produce mapKITE-like results. By doing so, an initial demonstration of mapKITE services has been carried out, with medium-level of maturity and expectancy of improvement along the final phase of the project. In addition, first mapKITE results on the use of the novel sensor orientation approach based on Kinematic Ground Control Points (KGCPs) have been published (see Publications), which has contributed to the demonstration of the mapKITE potential for corridor mapping.

Thirdly, the mapKITE market has been initially explored by means of creating a User Advisory Board (UAB), including users, stakeholders and contributors of mapKITE, to provide constant feedback about the marketing aspects of mapKITE. The engagement in Brazil has been specially noticeable and is, therefore, promoted as ice-breaker for the rest of the market niches."

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

mapKITE is built upon state-of-the-art paradigms in mapping (terrestrial mobile mapping systems and unmanned aerial vehicles) and, additionally, incorporates and develops procedures and features to bring the concept beyond the simple integration of two existing technologies.

In order to justify the prior, we highlight the following innovative items in mapKITE:

- We build a tandem terrestrial-aerial mapping concept embodying image acquisition and image orientation-calibration phases.
- We propose an innovative post-mission image orientation (position and attitude) and calibration determination of the UA imagery, based on:
- KGCPs (Kinematic Ground Control Points) for photogrammetry and remote sensing.
- P-&-S (Pointing-and-scale) measurements in photogrammetry and remote sensing for targeted KGCPs and classical or static Ground Control Points (GCPs). The mathematical models for these measurements are developed.
- Time-space tight coupling of the terrestrial and aerial imagery through synchronisation (not an invention) and enhanced by the P-&-S photogrammetric measurement of KGCPs.
- We investigate a novel post-mission image orientation and calibration approach of the TV imagery, based on the improvement of the TV in natural canyons and other areas of troublesome GNSS reception by using the UA imagery previously oriented and calibrated and its connection through the optical target on the TV roof.
- We implement a real-time guidance of the UA based on optical target tracking of the TV.

Moreover, we highlight the following novelties:

- The use of the Galileo code ranging signals E1 CBOC(6,1,1/11) and E5 AltBOC(15,10), as earlier proposed by some of the mapKITE project applicants in previous European and national research projects. MapKITE aims at the use of these signals on board of the UA for navigation post-processing as well as in ground for robustness in the guidance system.
- Use of Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), a recent invention of CATUAV (mapKITE partner) and a concept winner of the GSA Special Topic Prize & Catalonia Regional Prize (European Satellite Navigation Competition 2011).
- Hybrid redundant navigation and orientation concept, based on redundant inertial measurement units, GNSS measurements, and photogrammetric measurements based on findings and new concepts originated in previous research and projects of the mapKITE consortium participants.

Finally, we identify the following operational benefits of mapKITE, which ultimately relate to economic benefits for companies willing to adopt the technology and general societal impacts:
- Elimination of dual-campaigns (separate terrestrial and aerial mapping), as per the simultaneous operation proposed in mapKITE, which directly relates to considerable economic savings.
- Almost total elimination of traditional surveyed ground control points, as demonstrated through current mapKITE research (Molina et al., 2016). Again, this feature directly translates into noticeable economic savings per campaign.
- By means of placing the ground control station on the terrestrial vehicle, the UA operation is simplified and long distance mapping missions are enabled in a single setup. This is opposed to traditional UA operation setups for long distance that have to be mounted and unmounted every certain distance, which leads to cumbersome operations with reduced effectiveness (less distance per operation).
- Ease of operation enables high frequency in geoinformation production: due to the fast geodata acquisition and post-processing in mapKITE, mapping companies are able to produce updated products (cartographic maps, utilities inventory, terrain inspection, etc.) precisely and timely. This impact in a societal benefit fostered by a more productive and innovative service mapping company segment.

Societal impact of mapKITE is made apparent by allowing a large number of SMEs to be involved in the provision of sustainable geoinformation services based on EU space technology. In addition, with future mapKITE services, its simultaneous global (satellite navigation) and local (corridor mapping) nature opens the door for services being provided by SMEs in all parts of the world and not restricted to those in mapKITE.

Related information

Record Number: 192879 / Last updated on: 2016-12-15
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