CORDIS - EU research results

EGNOS-GPS/GALILEO-based high-resolution terrestrial-aerial sensing system.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - mapKITE (EGNOS-GPS/GALILEO-based high-resolution terrestrial-aerial sensing system.)

Reporting period: 2016-06-01 to 2017-04-30

- The first objective of mapKITE is to build a mature prototype (TRL 7) of a tandem terrestrial-aerial mapping system (geo-data acquisition and post-mission processing) based on a terrestrial vehicle and an unmanned aircraft equipped with remote sensing, navigation and communication payloads. The aircraft will follow the TV at a constant relative flying height while geodata are acquired simultaneously from the ground and air. The terrestrial vehicle carries an optical coded target on its roof. Geodata is post-processed 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 its market via contracts or negotiations with relevant stakeholders.

From an application standpoint, mapKITE targets corridor mapping and is also applicable to environmental, surveillance and disaster management applications. Being a terrestrial-aerial high-accuracy, high-resolution surveying system, mapKITE also leverages EGNOS and the unique features of the Galileo signals, like E5 AltBOC(15,10) and responds to market needs and trends identified by the geo-information stakeholders in the consortium and many geoinformation end users.

From a business perspective, mapKITE bridges the "partial" current offer based on geodata acquired in independent terrestrial (mapping vans) and aerial surveys (manned aircraft), with limited "point-of-view" and low resolution (respectively). mapKITE is aligned with big manufacturers and players of geomatic technology, that 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.
Several work threads have been developed:

* User Requirements identification/validation (by a mapping service company,TopScan): contact with several stakeholders in the mapping community to present the main tech/operational aspects of mapKITE, and therefore unveil its potential for their specific needs

* State-of-the-art survey (by EPFL): identification of the trends, realities and drawbacks of the current sensors and systems used in UAVs and terrestrial mobile mapping, mainly for navigation, orientation and imaging fields (three-times iterated deliverable D2.2).

* Technical Feasibility Analysis (by geomatic specialists GeoNumerics): identification of technical requirements out of the user requirements, and then assessment of state-of-the-art technologies' compliance. Several recommendations for system and operations derived (three-times iterated deliverable D2.3).

* System architecture (by UAV provider UAVision): detailed view of the various sensors and systems to be included and the necessary interactions among them. Enabling the identification of the level of maturity for each sub-system and effort for integration, for clear roadmap to successful system built-up (three-times iterated deliverable D3.1).

* mapKITE sub-systems development (all R&D partners): basically, the virtual tether (deliverable D4.1) orientation and calibration post-processing concept (deliverable D4.2) the UAV (deliverable D4.3) the Galileo E1/E5 receiver (deliverable 4.4) the generic navigation post-processing concept (deliverable 4.5) the optical target concept (deliverable 4.6) and target-tracking concept (deliverable 4.7).

* Sub-system integration (by UAVision): interfaces and integration issues have been addressed and solved to materialize a 'ready-to-operate' system, following the development plan (demonstrator, prototype and pre-commercial). (three-times iterated deliverable D5.1).

* Test plan (by GRID-IT): designed to cover the various system and sub-system elements, coherent with development layers in the project. Firstly, a test plan for sub-systems (deliverables D6.1); secondly, validate the first integration of all components (deliverable D6.3); assess high-level and global aspects of a more mature mapKITE system (deliverable D6.5).

* Test Reports (by GeoNumerics): compile the main results of the validation items in the test plan (deliverables D6.2 D6.4 D6.6)


Firstly, we have built and operated a full-fledged mapKITE prototype, including interfaced terrestrial vehicle and unmanned aerial vehicle and navigation and imaging sensors. This achievement is the final step in a chain of small successful steps entailing sub-system development, testing and validation. The outcome of this achievement has been well documented in Test Report 2 and 3 (deliverables D6.4 D6.6).

Secondly, the mapKITE prototype has been operated and mapKITE-like quality geodata has been acquired. These data have been processed using the developed post-processing chain to produce mapKITE-like results. The demonstration of mapKITE services has been carried out twice (second and third test campaign), with medium-to-high level of maturity in line with the proposed TRL output level. In addition, first-ever 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 analysed by means of the WP6000 activities, and moreover, we have established direct contact with world-leading mobile mapping service providers, integrators and users. The case of Brazil (Engemap is a consortium partner that has fostered mapKITE among its mobile mapping projects) has been specially noticeable and is, therefore, promoted as ice-breaker for the rest of the market niches.
We highlight the following achieved innovative items:

- tandem terrestrial-aerial mapping concept embodying image acquisition and image orientation-calibration phases.
- Innovative post-mission image orientation and calibration of UA imagery, based on Kinematic Ground Control Points as opposed to classical Ground Control Points (GCPs).
- Real-time, user-custom guidance of the UA based on GNSS receiver of TV, and augmented with optical target tracking.

Moreover, we highlight the following novelties that have been investigated:

- Use of Galileo code ranging signals E1 CBOC / E5 AltBOC aiming at post-processed UA navigation and robustness for terrestrial vehicle navigation.
- Use of TCAS for airtraffic monitoring and avoidance.

We identify the following operational benefits of mapKITE, ultimately related to potential economic benefits and general societal impacts:
- Elimination of separate terrestrial and aerial mapping campaigns.
- Almost total elimination of pre-surveyed and costly GCPs, as demonstrated in (Molina et al., 2016).
- UA operation simplified (short distance station-to-UA) to enable long corridor missions, as opposed to traditional UA operation setups in which mount/unmounted every certain distance is required.
- Ease of operation enables high frequency in geoinformation production, updated products (cartographic maps, utilities inventory, terrain inspection, etc.) precisely and timely.
The payload elements in mapKITE, as presented at the Critical Design Review (CDR) meeting.
Snapshot of a video to prepare 2nd Test Campaign (1st time the UA and TV fly together )
Typical mapKITE aerial image: the terrestrial vehicle in view with the optical target
Summary of the mapKITE results in mapping accuracy.
Snapshot of a video from 1st test campaign, where the UA flies with virtual tether for 1st time.
The potential of mapKITE mapping: ground-only point cloud compared to complete mapKITE point cloud.
2nd mapKITE test campaign.