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Improving Image Quality of a Color Infrared Digital Camera Mounted on a Small UAV Platform: An Iterative Active Learning Experience

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Aerospace Technical Session 3

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.920.1 - 26.920.10



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Paper Authors

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Christopher E Hartman University of Maryland, Eastern Shore


Abhijit Nagchaudhuri University of Maryland, Eastern Shore

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Dr. Abhijit Nagchaudhuri is currently a Professor in the Department of Engineering and Aviation Sciences at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) and is actively involved in teaching and research in the fields of robotics and mechatronics, remote sensing and precision agriculture, and biofuels and renewable energy. He has published more than 70 refereed articles in journals and conference proceedings. Dr. Nagchaudhuri received his baccalaureate degree from Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India with honors in Mechanical Engineering. Thereafter, he worked in a multinational industry for a little over three years before joining Tulane University as a graduate student in the fall of 1987. He received master’s degree from Tulane University in 1989 and doctoral degree from Duke University 1992.

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Lei Zhang University of Maryland, Eastern Shore

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Dr. Lei Zhang received his Ph.D. Degree in Electrical Engineering on 2011 from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Since 2012 he is working in the Department of Engineering and Aviation Sciences, University of Maryland Eastern Shore. His main research interests include image processing, autonomous system, optical SoC/NoC architecture, and on-chip optoelectronic device design.

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Abbas H Diab P.E. Research Assistant UMES

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Abbas Diab is currently an undergraduate at University of Maryland Eastern Shore pursuing a degree in Engineering with a mechanical engineering specialization. During his senior undergraduate year, Mr. Diab, along with a group of undergraduates, worked on several academic and research projects. He designed and built several ground, air, and water platforms for precision agriculture. Currently he holds the position of chair of the ASME UMES chapter.

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Improving Image Quality of a Color Infrared Digital Camera mounted on a Small UAV Platform: An Iterative Active Learning ExperienceIn the summer of 2014, a team at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore(UMES) began flyinga multi-copter, the 3DRobotics X8 with a Color InfraRed digital( CIR) camera, the TetracamADC Lite, in support of ongoing precision agriculture efforts at the university. Tetracam ADClite captures the near infrared, red, and green reflectance from crop canopy to provide assessmentof crop health using vegetation indices based on these spectral frequencies. Several light anddark “banding” were observed in Tetracam images obtained from flights aboard the X8. Priorexperience with aerial imaging efforts aboard a kite-based platform with the same camera systemresulted in qualitatively superior images; however, the kite-based platform lacked the capabilityto navigate a specified trajectory over a field to capture images. Investigations are underway toidentify the cause of the image aberrations as well as to make appropriate modifications toimprove image quality obtained using the multi-copter system. It is likely the image aberrationsand banding effects are due to a combination of factors including rolling shutter of the camera,vibrations transmitted by the multi-copter frame to the camera mount, and orientation of themulti-copter frame during lateral motion while capturing image frames. In an effort to improveimage quality, a number of troubleshooting steps were taken to minimize vibrations, isolate thecamera from any remaining vibrations from the X8 frame, and capturing images only when themulti-copter is hovering at the waypoints associated with the planned mission trajectory. Aftereach change, test flights were undertaken to determine the effect of the change on the imagequality. Students from both the engineering and aviation program at the university worked in ateam setting with the faculty members to advance research goals of the endeavor while gainingsignificant experiential knowledge in the active area of remote sensing using small unmannedaerial vehicles (UAV). This paper will document the procedures used to troubleshoot the bandingissue and other image aberrations and the results obtained as each modification is implemented.The paper will also document how the efforts undertaken aligned with the concrete experience,reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation framework ofKolb’s experiential learning paradigm. It is anticipated the paper will serve as a referencedocument for those experiencing similar issues with small UAV based aerial imaging efforts.

Hartman, C. E., & Nagchaudhuri, A., & Zhang, L., & Diab, A. H. (2015, June), Improving Image Quality of a Color Infrared Digital Camera Mounted on a Small UAV Platform: An Iterative Active Learning Experience Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24257

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