Application of drone for landslide mapping, dimension estimation and its 3D reconstruction

  • Sharad Kumar Gupta
  • Dericks P. ShuklaEmail author
Research Article


Dimension estimation of landslides is a major challenge while preparing the landslide inventory map, for which very high-resolution satellite data/aerial photography is required, which is very expensive. An alternative is the application of drones for such mapping. This study presents the utility of drone/unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for mapping and 3D reconstruction of two landslides near IIT Mandi, Himachal Pradesh. In this study, we used DJI Phantom 3 Advanced drone to collect high-resolution images of landslides. Features in the images were automatically detected, described, and matched among photographs using scale invariant feature transform (SIFT) technique. The 3D position and orientation of the cameras and the XYZ location of each feature in the photographs was estimated using bundle block adjustment. This resulted in sparse 3D point cloud, which was densified using Clustering View for Multi-View Stereo (CMVS) algorithm. Finally, surface reconstruction was done using Poisson Surface Reconstruction method, which was visualised in open source software CloudCompare. The 3D model, generated from drone images, was validated using field measurements of some objects, and 3D surface created from total station. Various quantities i.e. width (length), height and perimeter were measured in the 3D drone model and verified with total station data. The differences among all the measured quantities for both the landslides are less than 5% keeping the measurements of total station as reference. The 3D reconstructed from the sets of photographs is very accurate giving the measurements up to cm level and even small objects could be easily identified. In addition, digital elevation model (DEM) of sub meter resolution could be easily generated and used for various applications. Hence drone-based imagery in combination with 3D scene reconstruction algorithms provide flexible and effective tools to map and monitor landslide apart from accurately assessing the dimensions of the landslides.


Drone Landslide mapping, 3D reconstruction SfM Point cloud 



The author would like to thank Mr. Abhay Guleria (M.S. Scholar), Mr. M. Naresh (Ph.D. Scholar), Mr. Lokesh Tungariya and Mr Rakesh Meena (B.Tech Students) and and Mr. Sudhanshu Gautam (Intern) of IIT Mandi, for their help during the field work and data collection using total station. This paper would not come out in such a better shape without the suggestive and critical comments of both the reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Indian Society of Remote Sensing 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology MandiMandiIndia

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