Topographic modelling using UAVs compared with traditional survey methods in mining

<div><p>Abstract The current developments with unmanned aerial vehicles (‘UAVs’) are revolutionizing many fields in civil applications, such as agriculture, environmental and visual inspections. The mining industry can also benefit from UAVs in many aspects, and the reconciliation through topographic control is an example. In comparison with traditional topography and maybe modern techniques such as laser scanning, aerial photogrammetry is cheaper, provides faster data acquisition and processing, and generates several high-quality products and impressive level of details in the outputs. However, despite the quality of the software currently available, there is an uncertainty intrinsic to the surfaces acquired by photogrammetry and this discrepancy needs to be assessed in order to validate the techniques applied. To understand the uncertainty, different surfaces were generated by UAVs for a small open pit quarry in southern Brazil. Well-established topographic surveying methodologies were used for geolocation support and comparison, namely the RTK (real-time kinetic) global navigation satellite system (GNSS) (here called conventional method) and laser scanning. The results showed consistency between the UAV surfaces with a few outliers in when vegetation, water and mobile objects during the flight missions. In comparison with the laser-scanned surface, the UAV results were less erratic surrounding the RTK points, showing that surfaces generated by photogrammetry can be a simpler and quicker alternative for mining reconciliation, presenting low uncertainty when compared to conventional methods.</p></div>