Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Scott E. Budge


Scott E. Budge


Calvin Coopmans


Randall Christensen


A 3D terrain map can be developed to survey the earth’s surface and provide scientists with a method of accurately modeling terrain. Some of the applications include agricultural surveys, disaster management, and object classification. In order to develop a 3D terrain map, a sensor must capture all of the data to create the map. This 3D mapping tool can be made by combining a sensor that take samples of points on the earth’s surface and combines that with a digital camera that takes an image and lays it across those samples of the earth.

In order to take data over a large area, the entire system is flown on a small drone and must be small enough to allow the drone to fly for several minutes. While the drone is flying, a GPS sensor tracks the system’s location and orientation while taking data so they can be correlated with the 3D terrain map. Utah State University has developed a sensor for this application, called a texel camera, which uses laser measurements, digital images, and a GPS system to develop 3D terrain maps. The texel camera includes methods for correcting the terrain maps using the physics of the sensors and the motion of the drone during flight.