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Alternative remote sensing platforms

  • Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)

Ordnance Survey currently uses airborne digital cameras to obtain 2D and 3D data content. These cameras are not yet fully exploited in production but research and development projects, such as Change Detection, utilise their full spectral and geometric capacity.

People are often surprised that Ordnance Survey does not use satellite data other than for positioning. This has been largely due to restrictions on revisit rates, acquisition schedules and spatial resolution, and cloud cover is a major limitation over Great Britain. Previous projects have tested data from several different sensors to gauge their value for data capture or change detection. We continue to actively track developments in satellite technologies and remain interested in exploiting satellite-born imagery, synthetic aperture radar, lidar and other data types.

Major advances in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technologies are of great interest to mapping organisations because these platforms are potentially more flexible to fly and cheaper to run than manned aircraft. We have undertaken trials of several commercially available UAVs and continue to watch how the stability of this platform improves alongside the capability of the instruments that can be carried.

As the detail and resolution in our data products is increased, obtaining source data with greater detail is vital. Improved spatial resolution in our imagery goes a long way to achieving these improvements but ground-based survey will always be required. As there is demand for increased information around transport routes, putting sensors on road and rail vehicles can gather large volumes of raw data along these corridors. Previous research has not only tested some of the existing ground-based vehicle systems but has also developed tools for automatically interrogating these data to extract improved attribution for our existing products.

Contact us

For more information:

Contact: Anne Patrick, Research Project Coordinator

Email: universityenquiries@os.uk

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© Ordnance Survey 2019