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September 07, 2007


Matthew Hurst

What's fun about this is seeing all the model planes and folks on the tarmac - which one is you, Chris?


This is excellent.

Eventually, images will stream directly over to a server. This could be approximated with a cell network and small computer connected to the camera to grab the images.

Real-time integration of images from constantly patrolling UAVs would be very useful.

Igor Carron


This is very nice. We did something pretty similar but instead of an UAVs we used a high altitude balloon (a NASA one but it can be done on an amateur one as well). We put a Canon S3 IS camera and shot downward (instead of the usual edge-of-space photo taken by previous teams) and figured out two things:

- with a $300 point and shoot camera you can get a meter resolution on the ground for a large swath of land.

- once you have collected all these images, since the bandwidth is low, you wait for the balloon to come down (2-3 hours) and use two off the shelf softwares (autopano pro and zoomify) and produce a map. No need to import these maps in Google Earth (they can be too big), because at that point, you are the map.

Example maps we stitched (no expertise require only drag and drop) can be found here (you can zoom but this one
is 50% reduced)
others can be found here:

The reason we did this was to find out if low cost disaster response could be done and what quality of data could be produced. More can be found here:

Roland Piquepaille did a nice piece on us:


Igor Carron


One more thing, one of the very interesting aspect of the automatic stitching I mentioned revolves around two possibilities:

- no need for GPS to match the images together, the photographs are enough.

- if you fly several UAVs at about the same height or at different times over the same area, you can merge all these images automatically (drag and drop). Here again no need for GPS information.


Stephen Smith

You may also be interested in this program developed at UBC. It does a great job not only of joining but also making adjustments and blending for brightness and so on.

Chris Anderson


Just tried AutoStitch and I'm afraid it doesn't work well at all for linear imagery like ours. Here's an example of one such failure, on the above images. PTGui works much better for me.


Igor Carron


The autostitch algorithm is the one that was eventually integrated in the autopano pro software. Autostitch has a lot of issues with regards to dealing with 2 GB file of image (because it was not designed to deal with that much data). The folks at Autopano worked well with us to expand the capabilities of the autostich algorithm to produce the large panorama. You should try the software as it comes as a full fledged program for free. The non free version removes the watermark on the resulting panorama.

For low level flight, there are issues but if there is enough demand, I am sure the autopano folks will improve it to allow for orthographic projections.


Igor Carron



the full version removes the watermark on the rendering (panorama in jpeg, gif.... format).

The forum is a good place to find out how to have your panorama rendered well in case you get a similar result than PTGui (http://forum.autopano.net/f10-bug-reports)


Ali Kasyr

Hi Chris,

Sorry for this off topic post. I just finished listening to the Long Tail. The book is outstanding and it made me re-think our business model. Thank you for this book.


Sin Jin

Lov the fact that you can take these aerial pictures with ease. but are the commercial and practical applications of these technologies even relevant?


Interesting work, but I do have to wonder: why would the Alameda NAS allow UAVs to fly over? Wouldn't that seem to be a security issue?


Why use a military facility to demonstrate this? Who thinks that's a good idea?

Chris Anderson


The Alameda Naval Air Station has been closed for nearly a decade. No full-scale aircraft use its airstrips today.




gifts for men

Great stuff.I would say Pict'Earth is a combination of advanced image acquisition components that arelightweight, easy to use UAV, GPS, high resolution sensor, live communication and Pict'Earth software...

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The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

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