Developing an unpaved road assessment system for practical deployment with high-resolution optical data collection using a helicopter UAV

Document Type

Conference Paper/Presentation

Publication Date



The need of local governments and transportation agencies to periodically asses the condition of unpaved roads in a cost-effective manner with rapid response times has lead to interest in the use of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) and remote sensing technologies. Currently these assessments are done through visual inspections with agency staff making occasional spot measurements. An unpaved road assessment system was developed to address these issues while at the same time providing a more accurate means of characterizing distresses and determining the roads condition for inspectors. This system uses a single-rotor UAV with a Digital Single-lens Reflex (DSLR) camera to capture overlapping imagery of unpaved roads. The UAV is equipped with a full combination GPS plus IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) that allows it to fly predetermined waypoints with great stability while at the same time allowing the pilot the ability to take over at any time. Collected imagery is analyzed to locate road distresses. The imagery is run through a Structure From Motion (SfM) algorithm that generates a 3D model of the road surface from which additional condition information can be characterized. This system is easily transported and rapidly deployable to sections of unpaved roads for assessment.

Publisher's Statement

© 2013 IEEE Publisher's version of record: http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/ICUAS.2013.6564695

Publication Title

2013 International Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems