Implementation of ultra-light UAV systems for cultural heritage documentation

Tolga Bakirman*, Bulent Bayram, Burak Akpinar, M. Fahri Karabulut, Onur Can Bayrak, Alper Yigitoglu, Dursun Zafer Seker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


New technologies, such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and terrestrial laser scanning systems, provide opportunities for the digital documentation of cultural heritage. Although ultra-light drones (ULDs) are usually used for recreational activities, in this study, we examined their ability for use in digital documentation. We investigated the efficiency of an ULD for documentation of a selected historical building. In this study, the structure from motion (SfM) method was used to create three-dimensional point cloud data of a historical building using ULD and a low-cost UAV. The resulting point clouds were compared with terrestrial laser scanner data. The maximum standard deviations were calculated as 0.62 cm and 1.87 cm for low-cost UAV and ULD, respectively. The results show that ULDs can be used under suitable circumstances as a low-cost alternative for cultural heritage documentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-184
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cultural Heritage
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Masson SAS


This study has been supported by TUBITAK , Turkey (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) with project entitled "Automatic 3D Shoreline Extraction and Analysis from UAV and UAV-LiDAR Data for Sustainable Monitoring: Case Study of Terkos (Istanbul)" and grant ID 115Y718 .

FundersFunder number


    • Cultural heritage
    • Documentation
    • Low-cost UAV
    • Photogrammetry
    • Point cloud
    • SfM
    • Ultra-light drone


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