Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Scott E. Budge


Scott E. Budge


Jacob H. Gunther


Don L. Cripps


Textured digital elevation models (TDEMs) have valuable use in precision agriculture, situational awareness, and disaster response. However, Scientific-quality models are expensive to obtain using conventional aircraft-based methods. Photogrammetry-based techniques have no direct measurements, and thus has uncertainty in the reconstruction. The concept of a texel camera, which has both aerial imagery and ladar measurements from an inexpensive small UAV, can be used to combine the two methods.

A texel camera fuses calibrated ladar measurements and electro-optical imagery upon simultaneous capture, creating a texel image. This eliminates the problem of fusing the data in a post-processing step and enables both 2D- and 3D-image registration techniques to be used. A texel camera outputs texel swaths during a UAV flight. A swath consists of an aerial image that is calibrated to associated depth measurements. This thesis describes an automatic algorithm for registering these texel swaths into a TDEM.

The algorithm involves image processing, 3D geometry, and nonlinear optimization processes. The algorithm is seeded with a coarse estimate of the position and attitude of each texel swath capture, obtained using an on-board navigation system. Analysis of several data sets registered using this algorithm is shown. This method enables an inexpensive alternative to obtaining high quality textured 3D landscapes.