High-Quality UAV-Based Orthophotos for Cadastral Mapping : Guidance for Optimal Flight Configurations
During the past years, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) gained importance as a tool to quickly collect high-resolution imagery as base data for cadastral mapping. However, the fact that UAV-derived geospatial information supports decision-making processes involving peoples land rights ultimately raises questions about data quality and accuracy. In this vein, this paper investigates different flight configurations to give guidance for efficient and reliable UAV data acquisition. Imagery from six study areas across Europe and Africa provide the basis for an integrated quality assessment including three main aspects: (1) the impact of land cover on the number of tie-points as an indication on how well bundle block adjustment can be performed, (2) the impact of the number of ground control points (GCPs) on the final geometric accuracy, and (3) the impact of different flight plans on the extractability of cadastral features. The results suggest that scene context, flight configuration, and GCP setup significantly impact the final data quality and subsequent automatic delineation of visual cadastral boundaries. Moreover, even though the root mean square error of checkpoint residuals as a commonly accepted error measure is within a range of few centimeters in all datasets, this study reveals large discrepancies of the accuracy and the completeness of automatically detected cadastral features for orthophotos generated from different flight plans. With its unique combination of methods and integration of various study sites, the results and recommendations presented in this paper can help land professionals and bottom-up initiatives alike to optimize existing and future UAV data collection workflows.