Helping the blind see: UAV mapping turns UNESCO site into 3D model

July 25, 2016  - By 0 Comments

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The ancient city-kingdom of Kourion on the southwestern coast of Cyprus can now be “seen” by those with impaired vision.

Kourion, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Paphos, was once an important urban center. While most of the archaeological remains — including several buildings with well conserved floor mosaics — date to the Roman and Early Byzantine periods, the most ancient finds connect to settlements and tombs of the Ceramic Neolithic period (circa 5500-4000 BCE).

A tactile map: In summer 2015, sections of the virtual 3D model, including the amphitheater, were printed in 3D and displayed in the visitor center with Braille explanations, providing an interactive history to those with visual impairments.

A tactile map: In summer 2015, sections of the virtual 3D model, including the amphitheater, were printed in 3D and displayed in the visitor center with Braille explanations, providing an interactive history to those with visual impairments.

British drone manufacturer QuestUAV, in cooperation with the Cyprus University of Technology, acquired high-resolution aerial images of Kourion Archaeological Park with a surveying drone, and then created a virtual 3D model from the images with Pix4Dmapper Pro.

The QuestUAV team (a pilot and laptop commander) flew over 100 hectare of the archaeological park at 400 feet with a Q-200 Surveyor drone equipped with a Sony A6000 camera and a 16mm wide-angle lens, taking 330 aerial photographs during a 20-minute, fully autonomous flight.

The automatic camera trigger and the gimbaled camera system enabled acquisition of pin-sharp pictures, even at wind speeds of up to 40 kilometers per hour.

The images have a ground sampling distance of 2.5 centimeters with an overlap of 80 percent in flight direction and 65 percent sidelap. During the flight, the Q-200 Surveyor recorded the GPS coordinates of each camera position in a log file, allowing for image geo-location.

The entire survey took no longer than an afternoon.

Aerial view of the ampitheatre.

Aerial view of the ampitheatre.

 

Tracy Cozzens

About the Author:

Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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