Research prospects of single platform micro-Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs): uncovering the upland zone archaeological heritage of the Mirkovo basin, Bulgaria

King, Helen, Chapman, John, Dumanov, Boyan, Entwistle, Jane and King, Nigel (2014) Research prospects of single platform micro-Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs): uncovering the upland zone archaeological heritage of the Mirkovo basin, Bulgaria. In: International Union of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences (UISPP), XVII Congress, 1-7 September 2014, Burgos, Spain.

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Abstract

Autonomous sensor platforms such as unmanned airborne vehicles (UAVs) are becoming an established technology in many fields of monitoring and their use is steadily increasing, including in the field of cultural heritage. This paper presents the output achievable by a micro‐UAV for the rapid generation of aerial imagery, digital terrain models (DTM) and broadband vegetation indices for archaeological prospection from a single platform. Combined, these datasets can be used in the rapid survey of areas of interest that would not normally be considered practical due to time and cost implications and to identify archaeological features that are not readily visible in aerial imagery alone. The adoption of a single platform with a dual camera set up was used to generate a suite of datasets covering and area of 10km2 in seven flights. This study provides a work‐flow protocol for the deployment of a micro‐UAV in terms of data acquisition and processing that can be used for site prospection and site investigation. Real‐time processing of the aerial imagery and generation of well established broadband indices (e.g. normalized vegetation index (NDVI), false colour composites, NDVI colour composites) enabled in‐field decision making and planning to maximise the best use of researchers in the field. The time spent post‐processing data was significantly reduced as all data was sourced from one platform. The single platform also enabled a high resolution of output (~5cm and 10cm DTM) and aided in the identification of features, such as palaeochannels, pits, remains of buildings and other structures, and relict field layouts and boundaries. The datasets generated provided new insights into the wider context of known sites and highlighted additional areas of (human) disturbance for field reconnaissance. This research has made the Mirkovo Basin one of the best‐mapped upland basins in the Balkans. The results have made significant improvements to the Heritage Mapping aims of the District Council.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2015 10:24
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2015 10:24
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/25121

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