Script for batch conversion and algorithms to find rectilinear shapes

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This week, I and Vitalii started off by writing a bash script that takes a set of images from a directory, converts them (one at a time) and saves the converted images in a sub-directory or any other directory. The converted files are saved as TIFF and will have the same file name as the original. Because a single image takes more than 3 minutes to convert using ImageMagick, a batch of image could take quite a while. So, for now we will be using the nohup command to run the conversion in background but will work on parallelizing the conversion which should not be difficult considering that it is embarrassingly parallel.

For the rest of the week, we looked at algorithms which could be useful to detect rectilinear shapes from aerial images. We found that most of the algorithm, for accuracy, take multiple aerial images of the same region, often shot from different angles, to determine any man-made objects on the ground. However, we also found a convincing research article which uses Boldt Algorithm to find rectilinear shapes in aerial imagery.

Up next, analyzing aerial images from Skalanes

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Vitalii, Niraj and I talked about how to proceed with the aerial images from Skalanes. For now we are going to focus on two aspects, identifying possibly anthropomorphic surface features and measuring the extent of the lupine. There are a couple of algorithms that look promising for feature ID but they require stereo images. We will look into doing that next year. There is also at least one approach that uses mono images that they will start with. The automated image conversion scripts they wrote will be used to tune the input characteristics of the images for the algorithm(s). We haven’t decided on an approach yet for the lupine but I did have an idea for doing it based on a color map seeded with human input. It’s on the back of an envelope in the Hopper lab…

The Icelandic Field Studies May Term looks good, so far…

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Over the past couple of weeks Gail and I have spent almost all of our time working on materials describing the (almost) inaugural Icelandic Field Studies May Term, submitting them to the various campus entities, advertising it, and holding information sessions. As of tonight we have 16 applications for 14 spots, that’s much better than we hoped for given the late start. We’ll see how things go from here. Gummi, Oli and Rannveig, we’re on our way! We are especially excited that a few faculty have shown interest in participating with an eye towards leading the program themselves at some point in the future.

Next up is working with Nic, Niraj, and Vitalii on the image processing, Erin on the GIS layers for Skalanes overall (using Nic’s composite image) and the gardens, and Andy Clifford to learn about measuring glaciers.

I guess this is why they call it research

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Starting off, this week has been spent reading and studying up on the current tech thats useful for us. The pun is fully intended in the title of this as this is maybe the 5th time I’ve had to look at all the new technology and advances made (damn you Moore’s law).
Looking into a more advanced LiDAR system had me sifting through nearly all viable models that fit our budget. Sample rate, beam power, light shielding, and mass were a few of the deciding factors that went into looking at different models.

  • A high sample rate allows for the LiDAR to be traveling faster and not suffer a loss of resolution.
  • The power output of the laser beam itself is important to get greater distant, our original system only had a usable distance of ~1.5m above the ground in broad daylight.
  • light shielding, though it can be added later, is best done built in as close to the laser output as possible. The shield itself allows through only the recognisable light of the laser receiver and blocks out as much UV light as possible.
  • Because the goal is to have the LiDAR mounted on the UAS mass needs to be taking into consideration.

After making up a list and handing it over to Charlie to look over he submitted it to the scientific equipment fund.

I also took the time this week to put together a new abstract for our research. Since first starting on the research our knowledge and capabilities have expanded drastically and I felt our abstract should reflect this. As of today we submitted to be a part of the Earlham College “Natural Sciences Division Undergraduate Research Poster Conference.”

May Term, LiDAR

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Most of my time of late has been spent working on the Icelandic Field Studies May Term proposal. It’s overdue. Nic and I have been talking about LiDAR, we continue to think this is a promising technique to use at Skalanes.

Back into the swing of things

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Now a few weeks into the new semester its time to stop procrastinating and get back to work!

Ive started off by essentially doing what seems like mass updating of hardware, software, firmware, etc. The DJI drone system and ground control software both had to be brought up to date. Initially there were a lot of errors in getting them talking to one another again but as of Wednesday this week they are fully happy and working properly. I’ve also taken the chance to update the plug-ins and various parts of the website. Ive also made accounts on the blog for Vitalii and Niraj who will be joining us by working on some of the back end coding.

In an effort to stream line our massive photo cache I’ve copied all photos onto our media server here on campus to allow us to situate things. After talking with Charlie and Erin we have decided to sort initially by day and then by capture device. This means though that we have to map all photos to their correct day which has proved to be more difficult then I thought… If the EXIF data on the images doesn’t contain a date – the date is just set to be the most recent “creation date” which means when I copied them. Thats left me and Erin with a whole lot of images that need to be sorted and sifted by hand still. Im also still finding places where images are stored, such as the google drive, etc, and have been working on getting all of those to the server as well. Its sort of like a  big game of cat and mouse and is tedious at best.

With Niraja and Vitalii joining us I have also been doing my best in catching them up to speed on all the projects and details there in. Much of this involves working with the UAV images and how to post process them. Much of this is trying it out on proprietary software and then figuring out to best do it in large batches and with open source programs. Ive most recently been trying to figure out if its possible to get a 3D topographic image without needing to apply a LIDAR point cloud layer. While not as accurate it would certainly be quick and would be used more as an approximation.

As time becomes available, Ive also started going through all the video footage that we have saved and started to throw together a very (VERY) rough storyboard for the documentary. Im hoping to have a solid chunk of time this weekend to work on this a bit more. Really I’m just focused on getting some generic shots worked together so that we can use them as filler for voice over and context.

As things move along I’ll keep posting! Cheers!

And we are off, again…

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The new academic season has started and the field science/studies group is getting underway. After our work in Iceland this past summer (see the blog, pictures, playlist, etc.) we have a bunch of data to organize and analyze with various toolchains. Working on this now are Craig, Nic, Erin, Niraj, and Vitalii. Kristin and I are also working on Android and platform development together. At some point they will make posts describing what they are working on, maybe even updated regularly… Most of my time so far this fall has been spent on the field studies/May Term proposal, helping Vitalii and Niraj get started, and tomorrow I’m going to put on-off switches on a couple of ambiance platforms so they are easier to work with. I still can’t fathom how we didn’t have those from the get-go.

Blog 7/5/16: Drones, LiDAR, dirt

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This is now our 5th day at Skalanes and were are all feeling rather settled in and have our workflows… er… flowing. We were awoken to a bit of surprise today, the tent was actually warm! This is the first day of being in Iceland where a jacket wasnt necessary without having to hike a volcano. With hardly a cloud in the sky the weather was perfect for taking arial images with the UAVs. Oli, Rannveig, and Bjarki took some of out (at different times) to explain the archeological dig sites and what areas would be helpful to have high resolution mappings of the area. I did an initial fly over survey of the known archaeological site. Later is post processing I started to look into tweaking the photos to highlight ground structures, cancel out water reflections, etc. Its all looking promising. Unfortunately, its so bright that the sun would mess with the LiDAR’s receiver and so I will have to wait for the sun to “set” before going out. This will probably be around midnight. Tara continues to work with the soil samples taken and devising ways to process the soil.

Almost out the door

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This week was very busy. First of all I pretty much finalized the maps we have here, cutting, taping, folding and laminating them so they are ready for use in the field.

We have field day Friday where we split into two groups and collected data at several points. For this I sketched maps of the area that included all roads but only a few labels in order to do a little navigation practice while collecting data.

visualisation and flight

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This past week has been a busy week. I spent a great deal of time working with Erin on the UAV Lundi where we were able to do test flights in fairly heavy wind, get used to the camera system, learn how to stitch images together. I got a chance to look into some of the customisable flight controls such as “point of interest”, “follow me”, and “waypoints.” The waypoints is particular interesting as It should allow us to define flight plans, save them, and then have Lundi fly them in the same way on its own. Most of the custom commands are going to come from a “ground control station” which is just an input form a laptop. I spent time looking into open source ground stations that have already been created but didn’t find anything exactly like I wanted. In order to remedy this Ive started coding up a few things using the DJI api to either create our own standalone ground station or add it into an open system. The goal is to have the ability to click waypoints on a map and have the drone fly the path with user defined specifications.

I’ll update shortly about LiDAR visualisation and information. Im working on creating a nice image and detailed instructions on whats going on!


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