ISPRS Annals of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume I-4
16 Jul 2012
 | 16 Jul 2012


W. Walcher, F. Leberl, and M. Gruber

Keywords: Transnational, Photogrammetry, Automation, Ortho-Rectification, Aerial Camera, Digital Elevation Model

Abstract. Wide area and thus continental mapping extending beyond national borders is a novel concept in civilian photogrammetry. The Microsoft Global Ortho Program was launched in the Spring of 2009 as a result of Microsoft's need for global geo-data at a high geometric resolution and radiometric excellence. By fall of 2012 more than 10 million km2 of the USA and 14 European countries will have been covered by seamless 30 cm GSD color-, 60 cm GSD false-color infrared ortho-mosaics and a 1 meter GSD digital surface model. The ortho-maps are being published to Microsoft's Bing Maps Internet mapping portal.

The Global Ortho Program was designed for highly and unprecedented automated mapping of essentially entire continents. In 2011, exclusive of flight operations, the product output per person has been measured in excess of 275,000 square km per year. We describe research efforts that made this achievement possible. Those include a specially designed aerial sensor (Ultracam G), logistics simulation for fight planning and optimization, in-flight blur detection and subsequent automatic blur removal, modeling and removal of atmospheric and environmental conditions, automated shear detection and DTM refinement, an IT architecture to process >200,000 aerial images/day, and for creating over 1,000,000 km2 ortho-imagery and DSM data in 24 hours.

While addressing these issues, we provide ideas how this might affect the future of spatial infrastructure initiatives.