The use of advanced technologies combined with the development of aero-photogrammetry and LiDAR techniques enable us to create digital twins of specific assets, also called Digital Twins, which consist of digital representations of a physical asset.
Digital Twins can be used to gain valuable information and comprehensive understanding of physical assets, enabling, for example, the calculation of volumes, measurements, and elevation profiles, as well as to assess the state of preservation of infrastructure, industrial facilities, storage facilities, and energy production and distribution.
With multispectral surveys, on the other hand, we are able to provide comprehensive information to agricultural enterprises on the health status of crops at different phenological stages, maximizing agricultural yields and at the same time making efficient use of fertilizer and water resources.
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Aerophotogrammetry is a surveying technique that allows us to define the position and metric data of an object on the ground, as well as of the terrain itself, using information contained in appropriate georeferenced images taken from above. The application to drones of this technique, and hence the name aerophotogrammetry, allows the creation of digital terrain models and orthophotos, to analyze architectural surveys of infrastructure and buildings for the creation of Digital Twins.
The great potential that an aerophotogrammetric reconstruction offers lies in the possibility of assessing with extreme accuracy the shape, size and position of the area or object under investigation, relying solely on the modeling done.
Aerophotogrammetry represents the most reliable, inexpensive and accurate land data acquisition technique, which is also relevant in analyses of land change. In fact, unlike a classical topographic survey, which takes days of field measurements and provides only partial information, with the aerophotogrammetric survey we are able to obtain complete and detailed information while limiting the time of field investigation as much as possible. In addition, the extreme practicality of the survey allows us to repeat flights over the survey area over time, so as to periodically monitor its evolution. Differences found between elaborations carried out at successive times can prove crucial not only to work with data that are always up to date but also to highlight any critical issues.
Our aerophotogrammetric surveys are carried out with industrial drones equipped with the latest generation of digital sensors and integrated with the RTK (Real Time Kinematic) system. The system enables real-time satellite positioning achievable through GPS, GLONASS, Beidou and Galileo signals, where a single reference station provides real-time connections with centimeter-level accuracy.
This allows us to carry out surveys of very high accuracy even in areas where obstacles are present and difficult to reach.
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Depending on the level of detail desired, it is possible to generate Point Clouds (low or high intensity) that already provide us with an initial representation of the context under investigation.
These Clouds consist of a very large set of georeferenced points (even tens of millions) characterized by their position in a coordinate system and any intensity values (such as color) associated with them.
Each point on a Cloud is used as a vertex for creating a polygonal Mesh. This is a set of vertices, edges and faces that define the shape and size of the object, which joined together allow us to create a digital twin on which we can measure distances, areas and volumes .
We can then represent high-precision digital twins of infrastructure, buildings, architectural complexes and environmental sites, with the ability to extract sections and elevation profiles as well.
DEM (Digital Elevation Model)
DSM and DTM
The DSM represents the ground surface including the objects on it: buildings, trees and other artifacts.
If we are not interested in evaluating ground objects, such as trees or buildings, however, we can derive the DTM, which represents the course of the ground surface without the anthropogenic and vegetation elements.
Each product can be provided with representations in various color scales and contour lines.
The Digital Elevation Model is the representation of the elevation distribution of a territory, or other surface, in digital format. The DEM is generally produced in raster format by associating each pixel with the absolute elevation attribute.
The DEM is divided into two distinct branches:
- in the DSM (Digital Surface Model);
- in the DTM (Digital Terrain Model).
Orthophoto and Orthomosaic
Photogrammetry allows us to eliminate perspective deformations present in photographs to obtain geometrically correct two-dimensional Orthophotos.
Through a set of orthophotos we are able to create an Orthomosaic, that is, photos that have the property of being an orthographic projection. In the orthographic view, all vertical parts disappear and it is as if each is viewed from its very top.
These are those curves that join points with equal elevation, that is, equal vertical distance from the reference plane to which zero elevation has been assigned.
We use this technique in cartography to represent three dimensions on a two-dimensional sheet, allowing us to analyze the morphology of the territory.
LIDAR (an acronym from English Light Detection and Ranging) is a remote sensing technique for determining the distance to an object or surface using a laser pulse. The result is a very dense and highly accurate three-dimensional point cloud. This technique can be used to perform tasks very similar to aerophotogrammetry, enhancing the results.
In fact, one of the great advantages of using LiDAR sensors is that they can faithfully represent forested and densely vegetated areas. This is because the laser pulses penetrate the spaces between leaves and branches, reaching the ground below, thus improving the accuracy of terrain measurements.
Not only is LiDAR more effective in areas of high vegetation, but it is also more suitable for missions performed in low-light conditions, or for night surveys without the need for an external light source.
Finally, LiDAR makes it possible to capture small-diameter details, such as accurately mapping power grid cables and railway lines.
As anticipated earlier, LiDAR can be used to perform tasks very similar to aerophotogrammetry, enhancing its results.
The use of both remote sensing techniques makes it possible to add numerous details to the project due to the peculiarities that these two techniques possess. Therefore, from the union of the two aerophotogrammetric and LiDAR point clouds, we will have a project with an infinity of indispensable details that, with the use of only one technique, would not have been possible.
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In the area of Agriculture 4.0, our surveys with
multispectral sensors, combined with Big Data Analytics activities, provide comprehensive information to agricultural enterprises about the health status of crops, such as the presence of diseases and weeds or shortages of nutrients and water resources.
In addition, with the processing of vegetation indices, we are able to create prescription maps
reliable for use as input data for the activity of
fertilization, seeding and irrigation with machinery at variable rate.