Date of Award


Degree Type

Capstone Project

First Advisor

Bahram Nassersharif


According to Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 77, all airports have imaginary approach surfaces which must remain clear of obstructions in order to ensure safe air travel. Threats of penetration to these imaginary surfaces include new construction, telephone poles and lines, and trees. While most potential threats analyzed remain relatively constant in size, objects such as trees which grow require annual analysis for change detection. A variety of methods are available for surveying these surfaces for potential obstructions, one being an aerial mapping from photogrammetric data.

Aerial mapping for surveying purposes is a process which ties overlapping photographs together using computer software which detects similar points between the images. These images requires ground control points, also known as GCPs, to create a scale which allows for accurate measurement data. When ground control points with known GPS locations are placed throughout the mapping area all the points within the model can then be tied to their respective GPS coordinates in the longitudinal, latitudinal, and altitude directions. The placement of these markers is one of the most time-consuming but necessary tasks when creating an aerial map.

The main objective of this project was for the team to design and produce a method of streamlining the ground control point deployment process. This report introduces a device which, when implemented, can reduce the number of resources and labor needed for this process. A mechanical release system was designed and built to be carried by a drone. Remote control between two XBee RF modules was implemented to activate the rotating notch release system, following user commands. A 90 degree rotation by the servo of the flange would align the flange with the keyslot in the GCP, allowing it to fall. The final design was successfully operated by one pilot and three GCP’s were deployed at various locations.

An important factor in designing this system was developing lightweight, high contrast GCPs that would not impact the flight of the drone. The weight and balance of the final product were suitable for the small 3DR Solo drone used in the project. This accomplishment proves this system could be applied to drones with greater payloads and longer flight times for preparing large surveying areas in minimal time.


Sponsor: Bahram Nassersharif