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Utility of low-cost drones to generate 3D models of archaeological sites from multisensory data

Author(s): Dominique Meyer ; Aliya Hoff ; Eric Lo ; Falko Kuester ; Mike Hess

Year: 2015

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With the emergence of low-cost multicopters on the market, archaeologists have rapidly integrated aerial imaging and photogrammetry with more traditional methods of site documentation. UAVs serve as simple yet transformative tools that can rapidly map archaeological sites with increased efficiency and higher resolution than manual measurements while contextualizing the site within the landscape at costs significantly cheaper than plane-based aerial LIDAR systems. Though structure from motion alone produces excellent results, more sophisticated diagnostic imaging systems must be adapted for low-cost aerial deployment to produce multi-modal datasets. This paper proposes a workflow for selecting sensors

appropriate for a given environment and combining different modalities and resolutions of data for improved documentation and analysis. We present detailed optimization and automation techniques for structure from motion developed during a multitude of data collection initiatives. Furthermore, we discuss a collection of efforts to incorporate additional diagnostic imaging systems- such as LIDAR, stereovision, and thermal onto low-cost UAV drones to increase archaeologists’ access to multispectral

and 3D imagery. UAV drones serve as a cost-effective platform, and structure from motion an ideal entry

point for further adoption of diagnostic imaging to facilitate efficient site mapping and offer archaeologists innovative ways to visualize and analyze data.

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Utility of low-cost drones to generate 3D models of archaeological sites from multisensory data. Dominique Meyer, Eric Lo, Aliya Hoff, Mike Hess, Falko Kuester. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395037)


Multispectral SFM UAV

Geographic Keywords
Central America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.702; min lat: 6.665 ; max long: -76.685; max lat: 18.813 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America