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Photogrammetric Flight Planning Product Developed from the TatukGIS DK

November 15, 2004

Switzerland based TatukGIS customer Flotron AG (www.flotron.ch) recently released the TopoFlight software product for the precise planning and cost budgeting of flight paths for the collection of photogrammetric imagery and other data. A key feature of this product is the use of Digital Terrain Models (DTM) to calculate in advance the distortions in the aerial image coverage area caused by elevation differences of the terrain, and to plan the flight paths taking this into account. All of the GIS related features of the TopoFlight product are developed from the DK-VCL toolkit. Flotron AG has been a DK licensed user since December, 2003.

For a full description of the TopoFlight product, refer to the www.topoflight.com web page. The TopoFlight product is distributed by New Tech Services, Inc. located in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The following image shows a flight plan over the Nicoya peninsula in Costa Rica.

TopoFlight is a professional planning tool to reduce time and costs required to prepare price quotes for any defined photogrammetric aerial flight job. TopoFlight sets values such as the number of lines, miles of flight lines, coordinates, etc. and calculators the exact number of photos to be taken for a given job. The program computes the image center coordinates to achieve the exact desired image overlap. The overlap area between the flight lines is shown in order to detect fragile geometric conditions and to plan the ground control points.

The flight coordinates are transferred to Excel for the calculation of the project costs and, along with the flight lines, can be transferred to the flight management system. TopoFlight supports the interaction of the cartographic or tabular documentation of the flight plan with digital terrain models (DTM), taking advantage of free Maps from the USGS or SRTM/Landsat satellite data. The DTM calculations are very, very fast. The flight plan can be exported to different software products or to the camera management system, which will then take the aerial images automatically during the flight based on real-time GPS location information.

The program also supports the post checking of flights by importing the registered GPS coordinates and computing the mean/min/max image scale of each flight line and each image.

The following image shows how TopoFlight calculated the real imagery coverage area of a flight path over mountainous terrain (with the use of a digital terrain model) and presents the coverage area in gray color (with the use of TatukGIS technology). The red area shows the aerial imagery overlap between the neighboring flight lines.

TopoFlight is designed to interact with graphic or GIS software products. Output data can be generated in the following ways:
- Export to Excel spreadsheet
- Export vector data to the DXF and SHP formats
- Export raster image data as georeferenced TIFF format files
- Generate output in the CCNS and ASCOT formats for the control of the aerial cameras

It is the aim of every software developer to invent what is new in the world and to use what already exists. After testing GIS components from different manufacturers we decided to use TatukGIS as our base for the GIS part of our application. This allowed use to concentrate our efforts on designing an intuitive user interface and programming the many algorithms and mathematical issues. (Klaus Budmiger, Flotron AG).

This news item has been prepared from material provided by Klaus Budmiger with Flotron AG. For more information about this solution contact TopoFlight info@topoflight.com or one of the TopoFlight developers, Klaus Budmiger (e-mail: budmiger@flotron.ch).