Now that we've got several UAVs running well, it's time to show what they're good for. Aerial photography is fun, but it's not really useful unless you can cover large areas and integrate the imagery into Google Earth. I've been stitching together images optically and superimposing them on Google Earth, but it takes forever, still requires a lot of hand tweaking and isn't really well integrated into Earth. What I needed was an automated solution, which is why I was so pleased to see the service Pict'Earth recently announced.
The image at right is one that they processed for me. I uploaded a bunch of photos taken by a camera in continuous shooting mode (it was a Canon SD650 shooting twice a second) and a GPS record of the same flight (we just put a GPS data logger onboard and downloaded the data later). The Pict'Earth software synchronizes the time stamps on the photos with the GPS records and then outputs a KML file that automatically mosaics all the photos into Google Earth. It's really quite cool.
The example shown here is a screen shot of one run over the Alameda Naval Air Station. Here's the KML file--download it and it should load automaticaly into Earth so you can see how it all works.
The Pict'Earth team is still developing the software to do this on a large scale and is working out pricing plans. They're updating their website and should have that all available there soon. In the meantime you can contact them directly here. You can also follow their progress on their Ning community site, which is well worth visiting.