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An Airborne Four-camera Imaging System for Agricultural Applications

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2010 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 20 - June 23, 2010  1008855.(doi:10.13031/2013.29741)
Authors:   Chenghai Yang
Keywords:   Airborne, bandpass filter, CCD camera, image alignment, imaging system, multispectral image.

This paper describes the design and testing of an airborne multispectral digital imaging system for remote sensing applications. The system consists of four high resolution charge coupled device (CCD) digital cameras and a ruggedized PC equipped with a frame grabber and image acquisition software. The cameras are sensitive in the 400 to 1000 nm spectral range and provide 2048 2048 active pixels with 12-bit data depth. A 24 mm lens is attached to each camera via an F to C mount adapter, resulting in an imaging size of 0.63 times the flight altitude. The four cameras are equipped with blue (430-470 nm), green (530-570 nm), red (630-670 nm), and near-infrared (NIR) (810-850 nm) bandpass interference filters, respectively, but have the flexibility to change filters for desired wavelengths and bandwidths. The cameras are arranged in a quad configuration and attached to adjustable mounts that facilitate aligning the cameras horizontally, vertically, and rotationally. The image acquisition software allows the synchronized black-and-white band images from the cameras to be viewed on the computer monitor in any one of the four modes: a quad, one band image at a time, a normal color composite, or a color-infrared (CIR) composite. The band images are refreshed continuously to allow the operator to selectively save images with correct areas of interest. The selected four-band composite image is saved as a tiff file and consecutive images can be saved in 1-s intervals. A band-to-band alignment procedure based on the first order transformation was presented to further align the four band images. The system performed well in both stationary and airborne testing conditions. Airborne images obtained from agricultural fields, rangelands, and waterways demonstrate that this system has potential for monitoring crop pest conditions, mapping invasive weeds and assessing natural resources.

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