June 2nd, 2013 was a good field day for photo collection! I flew eight flights with Crimson, the Arducopter hexa with Mikrokopter motors and frame. Five flights were for the "matrix", this summer's big project of comparing the effect of different flight conditions on 3D scan quality. This condition was diffuse lighting, high wind, flying 40m above the canopy, with 50% side overlap. The last three flights were to test our georeferencing method. Jonathan and Dana set out orange buckets over known GPS coordinated, which we will check for error in the georeferenced point cloud built from this day's photos.
The white flags on the ground represent the eight spots the copter landed on in auto landing mode. All eight flights were fully autonomous, all I had to do was rev up the props and enable auto mode, then disable auto mode to cut the motors once it touched back down. The GPS in the copter seems pretty reliable for auto landing, seeing as the copter always landed within the same 2m circle. The white flags coming out of my hat are "antennas" which actually help me gauge the wind speed, because the flags flap more in stronger wind, which I can feel with my head.
This is representative of the eight flights. As you can see, the path sometimes curves. I suspect it is due to the high wind gusts we were flying in. These kind of curves were not present on calm days, so they will hopefully manifest themselves as a measurable difference in scan quality. That is the point of flying the "matrix" of different conditions. This flight is the standard 250x250 meter collection
A typical photo from repetition 1. All photos were very detailed, I'm not seeing any intermittent blurring like I used to with the SD4000 cameras of old. The color is a bit dark, but it looks like this in full sun as well, since the color is always calibrated off of our grey camera card. In the future, we may try using a darker card to obtain brighter pictures. Note the orange bucket on the lower edge of the photo.