UAV Training Conducted at KU, Dhulikhel

Department of Civil and Geomatics Engineering of Kathmandu University (KU) and WeRobotics jointly organized a 3-day Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) training at Kathmandu University, Dhulikhel. The training was conducted from September 6 to September 8, 2016. Thirty participants from Kathmandu University, Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC), International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), MedAIR, Rural Development Initiative (RDI), Nepal Geomatics Engineering Society (NGES), and Robotics Association of Nepal (RAN) learned applications of UAVs, flying skills, data capturing as well as image processing.

Acting Head of the Department of Civil and Geomatics Engineering Dr. Prachand Man Pradhan welcomed the participants and the trainers. Associate Dean of School of Engineering, Kathmandu University Prof. Dr. Ramesh Kumar Maskey mentioned the need of fast track to secure UAV flight permission for research and academic purposes in his welcome remarks. Dean of School of Engineering, Kathmandu University Prof. Dr. Bhupendra Bimal Chhetri wished the participants and expected that they will apply the knowledge gained during the training for betterment of the society. Lecturer Mr. Uma Shankar Panday presented past and going UAV projects at the department. He further shared with the participant that the department is looking at new opportunities with UAV. Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) Deputy Directors Mr. Subhash Jha and Mr. Raju Shrestha presented on Nepal UAV regulations and role of CAAN.

prof-maskey-uav-training

caan-officials-uavTraining resource person Dr. Adam Klaptocz from WeRobotics taught the participants on technique to safely fly multirotor as well as fixed wing UAVs, capture data for building damage assessment and agriculture applications. He flew Parrot Bebop 2 (a multi-rotor UAV) and collected images of a building facades and roof top at KU Dhulikhel premises. Each participants were later asked to practice with the flying vehicle under close supervision of Dr. Klaptocz. A 3D model of the building was prepared and demonstrated to the participants the next day.

uav-bebop-2imageDr. Klaptocz demonstrated the participants to prepare flight plan, take off and land eBee (a fixed wing UAV). The participants did practice for launching eBee. All participants were taken to an agricultural field at Shankharapur, Kathmandu, where the team collected RGB as well as Red Edge images of the agriculture field with eBee. The participants also took part in a laboratory exercise. Partakers prepared 3D models from UAV images and processed UAV images for agricultural applications with Pix4DMapper software.

participants-launching-ebee

rgb-n-red-edge-imagesGeomatics program coordinator Asst. Prof. Mr. Nawaraj Shrestha handed over Kathmandu University souvenir to resource person Dr. Adam Klaptocz. Acting Head of the department of Civil and Geomatics Engineering Asst. Prof. Dr. Prachand Man Pradhan provided training certificate to the participants and gave vote of thanks to the participants, trainers and organizers.

token-and-certificate

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A reply to to Abhash regarding query of UAV technology

We, Geospatial Lab was queried about the various aspects of UAV. We have tried our best to clarify. The query by Abhash Maskey was :

Really neat website you guys have!

Some questions regarding the UAV
1. Was it the KUCopter that you used for terrain mapping? If not was it an open hardware, OTS component assembly you did or did you have a commercial UAV. Custom assembled UAVs, as far as I know, can be a real pain in the ass because you have to keep maintaining that stuff over and over again. At least, that’s what I have seen.

2. Did you have any telemetry on board to send data real time (you mentioned GPS, IMU or even the payload imagery) or did you just store it on board and then later retrieved it .
3. Did you guys have an autopilot or did you actually manually drive that thing up to 100m, because you know they might just fall off the sky.

Couple of questions regarding logistics/random stuff
1. Charging the LiPo batteries? in rural areas? how did you manage to do so
2. Repairs? did you guys have any issues with repairing, component loss or even crashes?
3. How heavy is it btw?

I have some further questions regarding some of the terrain challenges you faced:
1. Was the quad optimized for such terrain? what features do you think would better to have on such a multirotor.
2. Have you explored other sensors for terrain mapping?
3. Would low resolution 3D mapping be better than just a 2D on such terrains? Because 2D seems to be doing just fine as well.

feel free to take your time and answer them. I have a few friends here who might be interested in the work you are doing and might link you up with them. The issue is that staying here and trying to come up with a system design for Nepali terrain won’t do any good, so we need feedback from people who have actually gone to the ground and worked their ass off to get the data like the one above.

Please do include your email as well, I will be in touch
Regards,
Abhas

Reply to comment

Dear Abbhas,
We are sorry for replying you so late. We were very busy with UAV field work. Many thanks for your feedback.

As you many so many questions, we decided to answer them by email rather than through the post blog.

  1. We designed and procured individual parts and assembled them. We used commercial products. Flight controller board is from DJI NAZA (Wokoong-M). We designed it so that it can maneuverer with a sensor (camera or other depending on project requirement) weight Approx. 2kg. The details are as follows:

Table 1: Hardware Specification

Type : Multi-rotor
No. of rotors : 6
Flight Control Board : WooKong-M (50 waypoints)
Motor : Foxtech KV288 BLDC
Flight Data Recorder : IOSD MARK II
Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) : Platinum pro ESC 40A
Propeller Size & Pitch : 18 inch/6.1
Body Material : Carbon Fiber
Dimension (motor to motor distance) : 960mm
Radio Transmitter Signal Channel & Frequency : 8 channel 2.4GHz Radio System
Battery : 6-Cell LIPO Battery (22,000 MAH)
Self-Weight (including Camera Gimbal) : 6 Kg
Suggested Payload (Camera/Sensor) : 1.5 – 2.0 Kg
Camera System : xniteSonyA6000NDVI

Table 2: Operational specification

Max. Thrust : 20 Kg
Spatial Coverage : Approx. 2 sq. Km. (depends on flying height, camera configuration & battery)
Flight time : Approx. 20 minutes (depending on weight & wind conditions)
Flight Mode : Manual, Attitude & Autonomous (Waypoint Navigation)
Flying Height : Height limit can be set before flight
GPS/IMU Unit : DJI NAZA
Automatic  flight planning : Yes
Maximum Horizontal Speed : 25 m/s
Maximum Vertical Speed : 5 m/s
  1. Since we did not require to have real-time data for our current application, we decided not to include that feature with the current UAV. Images and other flight data are stored which are download and processed after the flight mission is completed. We have devices at sky end for telemetry but did not include such devices and display device at the ground end for the purpose.
  2. The hexa-copter can fly autonomously and we do fly with predefined flight which is prepared using Ground Station software. We need to provide camera details, overlaps, flying height and the coverage area to the software for route planning

Logistic/random stuff

  1. Yes, charging LiPo has always been a problem. We always take an extra LiPo battery. If we require more energy, we take small generator. However, this is very difficult option. Having extra battery is expensive but a better alternative as it saves your time as well.
  2. We have minor crashes a couple of times in the beginning. We were lucky because the damages were only on structural parts and nothing happens to expensive electronic parts and the flight control board. We repaired the copter in few hours with the spare parts we had.
  3. Weight: mentioned in above table

Question regarding Terrain issues:

  1. Multirotor is suitable for difficult terrain and for smaller spatial extent. The flight planning software takes 3D data from Google earth so that 3D flight plan is achieved; meaning flying height varies during the flight according to the terrain.
  2. We are using xniteSonyA6000NDVI sensor for forest monitoring. Sony A6000 camera is modified to capture information in Red, Green and NIR bands.
  3. 2D is not a replacement for low resolution 3D. In some application, visual interpretation for example, would suffix. However, for others you need to have 3D wich is not that difficult to obtain with overlapping images that you acquire with the UAV. We have not yet explored LiDAR for 3D data acquisition.

We believe that we have answered your questions. If any answer is not clear to you or do you have any further question, please write us back. We will try to answer them. Finally, we will be glad to work with people using unmanned platform.

Best Regards,
Geospatial Lab
Department of Civil and Geomatics Engineering
Kathmandu University

Ku Geomatics Engineering towards Geo-IT solutions

The android application development training started here on Kathmandu University. The training is designed for Geomatics Engineering batch of 2011.  This training is an initiative to develop the skills of trainee regarding the use of geospatial technology in android platform.

The training will be conducted based on following schedule :

Day Date/Time Topics Resource Person Remarks
1 17 July
  • Installation/ Set-up required software, getting familiar with development platform
  • Android Studio, Java SDK 64 bit, OS – 64 bit
  • Minimum configuration of RAM 4 GB.
  • The Android Platform/The Android Development Environment
  • Basics: hello world
Suresh/ Ram/ Suman InaugurationLecture and installation
2 18 July
  • User Interface
  • Create simple application using UI elements
Samrakchhan Ghimire Lecture and hands on exercise
3 19 July
  • Detail on user interface and interaction
Samrakchhan Ghimire Lecture and hands on exercise
5 20 July
  • Sensors
  • Location & Maps
  • Exercise that use sensor data, GPS location , consume map
Suresh/ Ram/ Suman Lecture and practical
5 21 July
  • Data Management
  • Creating database storing and extracting data like photo, text, longitude, latitude
Suresh/ Ram/ Suman Lecture and practical
Trainor Suresh Shrestha with trainee

Trainor Suresh Shrestha with trainee

The second phase of training will be “Web Map Application Development Training” which will start from 23 July.

UAV for Biomass Estimation

It’s  been 10 months or so, Kathmandu University has been investigating potential use of UAV ( Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), commonly known as drones in various potential field like post disaster quick assessment, crop monitoring and biomass estimation. During this time, Geospatial Lab under Department of Civil and Geomatics Engineering of Kathmandu University has tested a self-assembled hexa-copter in three major fields – Post Disaster Assessment and Mapping, Crop Health Monitoring and Biomass Estimation. The images from the UAV were captured using RGB Sensor in damage assessment of building after Nepal earthquake 2015 whereas special RG-NIR sensor was used in biomass estimation and crop health monitoring. The RGB sensor used was SONY DSC W120 and RG-NIR sensor was Modified Sony ALPHA 6000.

Biomass Estimation using UAV images

Recently, Geospatial Lab initiated the use of UAV and VISNIR sensor mounted on the UAV for above forest biomass estimation. The field work was carried out at Barandabhar Protected Forest of Chitwan district. The area covered for pilot test was approximately 0.5 sq km. The image processing and geo mosaicking and orthophoto generation are under progress. Besides, capturing VISNIR images, positional values of artificial markers placed for Ground Control Points (GCPs) were also measured using DGPS. Further, tree specific data like tree height, DBH, and tree species, among several others were also collected for 11 sample plots selected randomly within the area.

Individual Images as Captured from UAV suing NIR Camera

Individual Images as Captured from UAV suing NIR Camera

Image Mosaicked form 132 images captured in this flight

Image Mosaicked form 132 images captured in this flight

Geo-IT approach to heritage archive and conservation

Geospatial Lab and ICIMOD started an innovate approach of heritage information archive of Kathmandu metropolitan city. The android application, “KTM Heritage” is a modified version of “Disaster Reporting” built for volunteers mobilized by Kathmandu metropolitan.

The app has limited field as it is taken as a means to capture spatial feature(geotag heritage and it’s image) in order to create a spatial database of post and pre earthquake merging with the digitised paper based reports.

Some of the snaps of KTM Heritage:

Screenshot_2015-06-11-12-11-09

Screenshot_2015-06-11-12-12-50

Screenshot_2015-06-11-12-13-02Screenshot_2015-06-11-12-13-23Screenshot_2015-06-11-12-13-32

Earthquake Building Damage Assessment using UAV

A team from Department of Civil and Geomatics Engineering, went out to the Kuttal village of Dhulikel municipality, and Panga and Itagol of Kirtipur municipality to collect the data about the damage caused due to devastating earthquake on April 25th, 2015. The team used emerging technology of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, which the Geospatial Lab has been using for the Biomass Estimation Research Project here at Kathmandu University. The team collected the aerial images of these places with the Sony Digital Camera mounted on the UAV. The team deployed self-assembled hexacopter as a sensor carrier for serving the purpose.

A Sample image taken from UAV

A Sample image taken from UAV

The UAV flights were conducted in the first week of May, 2015. The team collected aerial images of these places using the digital camera mounted on the hexacopter. The camera mounted on the UAV was Sony Cybershot W120. The images were taken at the height of about 100m from the ground. The image overlap were 80%  in the flight direction and 60% across the flight direction. The UAV has its inbuilt GPS and IMU so the location of camera position was recorded for each image along the flight.

Preliminary Damage Assessment Map of Kuttal Village with mosaicked image

Preliminary Damage Assessment Map of Kuttal Village with mosaicked image

: Preliminary Damage Assessment Map of Panga, Kirtipur

: Preliminary Damage Assessment Map of Panga, Kirtipur

Preliminary Damage Assessment Map of Kuttal Village

Preliminary Damage Assessment Map of Kuttal Village

pree

Use of UAV in Crop Health Monitoring

The use of remote sensing data for precision agriculture started in early 1980s. The data were used to study variations for crop and soil conditions.With the successful launch of high resolution multispectral satellites, the use of satellite data in agriculture sector has increased tremendously.

Although imagery is available from satellite systems, there are some distinct disadvantages associated with their use, such as higher cost for smaller spatial extent, as well as lower spatial and temporal resolution. Advantages of data from UAVs over satellite images include flexibility, lower cost among several others.

A farmer or agronomist can program a UAV to fly a directed path whenever they want. This allows a crop to be monitored for things that might be of interest in the growth of the plant. UAVs are capable of providing ultra-high resolution images, video capturing and NIR photography. The potential application of UAVs in agriculture is limitless. Some of them are as under:

  • Identifying and monitoring the spread of crop destroying weeds/pests
  • Monitoring the crop health
  • Nitrogen content mapping, soil brightness mapping
  • Crop cover, Biomass estimation, yield prediction
Project Site

Project Site

UAV technology allows a farmer to check to conditions in the field and get a better overall picture without spending time and money to travel himself over the entire field. The UAV images could be utilized to track irrigation, pests, and crop health. UAV services go well beyond traditional photography and offer crop imaging technology that would allow a farmer to spot diseases early and stop the damage. UAV can also carry sensors that pick up information invisible to the naked eye. NIR reflectance cameras can be used to measure response to vegetation stress. Some of the sensors used are

  • RGB – visual inspection, elevation modeling, plant counting
  • NIR – soil property and moisture analysis, crop health/stress analysis, water management, plant counting
  • RE (Red Edge) – crop health analysis, plant counting, water management
  • Thermal Infrared – plant physiology analysis, maturity evaluation, yield forecasting

We are investigating maize health through NDVI camera mounted on a multi-rotor UAV at different crop growth stages. Along with health monitoring, we are planning to:

  • Compute the vegetation indices and find out the relationship between vegetation indices and soil nutrients.
  • Identify the dragging factors like pest, weeds, fertilizers deficiency or excess and prepare the prescription map to improve the crop health.

We are using spreading wings UAV (Hexa-copter) with multispectral sensor (Sony Alpha A6000 VIZ-NIR camera) subjected to monitor the health of maize plant. The study area includes 18 plots located at Bansghari covering an area of about 4000 sq. m. near to Kathmandu University.

Total station survey was carried out to locate individual plot boundaries and evenly distribute the GCPs for post processing images acquired using the hexa-copter. Geo-located soil samples was taken from every plot and tested for various soil nutrients. Soil Maps showing the distribution of nutrients – nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous have been prepared based on the test result. We conducted flight recently on 27th May 2015 using RGB camera for instance. DJI Ground Station is used for flight planning. Circular red colored hard paper was placed on the top of GCPs to make it distinctly visible in the image. Later on, these GCP markers were used for geo-referencing images followed by mosaicing. Plant counting and DSM generation is yet to be performed.

On our next flight, we will be using VIZ-NIR camera. The images captured in NIR, Red and Green will be extracted and post processing operation (geo-referencing and mosaicing) will be carried out. After mosaicing images, Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) map will be prepared which will provide preliminary insight of the plant condition. NDVI is the indicator of greenness/health/status of the plant whose value ranges from -1 to +1 evaluated using NIR and Red band. The value near to 1 represents good health and greenness of the plant whereas the value near to 0 or negative indicates poor health or harvesting stage. The greenness is directly linked with the chlorophyll content in the plant leaves.

NDVI computed and the soil sample results will be correlated to develop regression equation which then helps to determine soil nutrition at particular location based on the NDVI value. Thus nutrition prescription map can be produced which can be prescribed to farmers guiding to apply fertilizers at right time, right place and at right way. This helps increased profitability and sustainability, improved product quantity/quality, effective and efficient pest management, water and soil conservation as well as reduced adverse effect on farmers and consumers health.

Image acquired from RGB camera

Image acquired from RGB camera

Image Mosaic

Image Mosaic

nitro

Hexa-copter

Project Members:

Sumesh K.C.

Shangharsha Thapa

Manoj Shah

Project Supervisors:

Uma Shankar Panday

Nawaraj Shrestha

First phase of piloting of detail earthquake assessment survey concluded at Bhaktapur municipality-14

The piloting of household survey for detail earthquake assessment successfully conducted in Bhaktapur municipality ward no 14 under the technical assistance from ICIMOD and financial assistance from Sano Paila;  Geospatial Lab and I.STEM Lab as a primary technical implementing partner.  Similarly, the field was assisted by Rotaract Club of Baneshwor and Bhaktapur, Bhaktapur volunteers and Active Citizen Youth Club of Bhaktapur. The survey’s objective is to find the condition of houses, the socio-economic status of family living in the house and suggest the best available method for earthquake relief and rehabilitation. The survey is conducted through the android application, “Disaster Reporting”(https://goo.gl/2dXH5I)

The survey covered the fields as given below but in different interface of android application

Owners Name    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Mobile Number    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Occupants Number    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Latitude   _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  Longitude   _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Damage Type:  ☐ Moderate Damage ☐  Severe Damage ☐  Collapsed

Source of Income:  ☐ Remittance ☐  Agriculture ☐ Business

Civil ServiceDaily wage ☐  Private Job

Others _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Current Condition:  ☐ At tent ☐  Sharing Room/Floor At New Rent

At Farm ShelterAnother Owned house

Others _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Occupancy Type:  ☐ Residential ☐  CommercialEducation

Medical Industry ☐  Club

     Government OfficeOffice Institute ☐  Police Station

☐  Hotel/Restaurant Others _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Type of Construction:  ☐ Adobe ☐  Wood FrameBamboo and Mud

Stone and MudBrick and Mud ☐  Stone and Cement

☐  Brick and CementPillar-Beam-Cement

Others _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Income Level:  ☐ Below 10k ☐  10-20k20-30k  Above 30k

Current Income Source Status: ☐  Running ☐   Partially running ☐  Ended

Impacts:  Death   _ _ _ _ _   Displaced   _ _ _ _ _ _ _   Injury _ _ _ _ _ _ _   Missing _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Needs:  Shelter: Required   _ _ _ _ _ _      Supplied _ _ _ _ _

Water: Required   _ _ _ _ _ __     Supplied _ _ _ _ _

Medicine: Required   _ _ _ _ _     Supplied _ _ _ _ _

 

The detail geo-statistical analysis will be out soon.

 

Study area

Study area

 

 

Field planning

Field planning

Volunteer in the field

Volunteers in the field

Volunteer in the field

Volunteers in the field

 

 

“Disaster Reporting”, an android application for household assessment released on Google Play Store

The android application developed by Geospatial Lab, Department of Civil and Geomatics Engineering, Kathmandu University in collaboration with International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is now available on Google Play. The app can be downloaded for free. The app is intended towards ground sourcing data collection of individual households. Anyone willing to report can download the app and report but it will be verified before publishing.

Click Here to Download Disaster Reporting from Google Play

Google Playstore page for  "Disaster Reporting"

Google Playstore page for “Disaster Reporting”

 

About the Applicaiton

A detailed disaster reporting android app along with its impacts and reporting of needs.

All reports details is shown on map on our website.

Receive automatic notification whenever you enter a disaster affected area set by the admin.

Choose your area by creating geofence to receive notification whenever disaster occurs in that area.

Route to the nearest 15 hospitals,police stations or camp areas.

Instructions for Reporting:

  1. Register through app.You need to confirm the registration by opening your registered email.(Confirmation message may be in spam folder).
  2. Log in using registered email.
  3. After login it asks for download.You need to download the data for your first use.
  4. You can now view your location on the map.
  5. To report the incident go to report menu on the side navigation bar of the app.(You can also report by adding widget:”Quick Report” in you phone).
  6. For new report click on “New Report” button of app.Then select the incident type.(Earthquake is set by default on app).If you select “building damage”,it shows you the additional fields.You can take photo and then fill the forms for impacts and need.
  7. You need to enable your GPS or mobile data for reporting.
  8. You can collect many reports and can upload when you are connected to internet by clicking on “Upload all”.

 Instruction for Geofence:

  1. Go to Geofence Menu.
  2. Click on “Add New Geofence”.
  3. Choose the circle of polygon tab and then click on map for circle centre or draw polygon on map.
  4. Click on create geofence.
  5. You will now receive notification if any disaster geofences are created by our admin.You can also subscribe to only certain types of disasters from settings.
  6. You can view admin and your geofences in your home screen by turning on switch “Admin” and/or “User”

 Limitation:

This android app is for the use in Nepal and so contains osm map of Nepal only.