Apologies in advance if this isn't interesting to anyone here. The U of MN UAV lab has been involved in a few projects surveying for invasive plant species in our state. The commercial mapping solutions work great and produce high quality overviews, but the cost scalability is a concern for us. The primary need of our project is hunting for hard to spot details, so the loss of resolution in the orthophotos was a concern to us, as is losing access to viewing all the original imagery in context. Drone deploy caused us some additional concerns due to difficulty in exporting results at full resolution.
As part of our project we have developed a map stitching pipeline that is more optimized for hunting needles in haystacks. As a research lab, we have developed the software in 'guts out' style, most of the project is written in python/opencv. One of our goals is to produce quality results, another goal is to share and show our work.
For our project which is centered around finding hard to spot details, we created a map visualization tool that runs locally on your computer (not web based) but gives you access to all the original imagery placed precisely where it should go. We use a 3d rendering system (not web based) to stretch the images precisely over the underlying surface so there are virtually no seams. Our visualization tool also gives access to all the images (in full resolution) that cover a particular spot of interest. We can also toggle between different image filtering to help draw out features by intensity or color and make them easier for a human eye to pick out. This is harder to do with traditional mapping solutions.
I'm happy to answer questions if anyone is interested in more details. Perhaps there are better places to post this? I haven't found a thriving mapping developers forum anywhere. Most people pivot commercial as soon as they get something working pretty well.
Here is a rambling video that shows the results I obtained stitching about 2400 images together:
If I haven't already bored you, you can try a live demo (windows) by downloading the release here: https://github.com/UASLab/ImageAnalysis/releases/download/v20190215/7a-explore.zip
and then download a dataset from here: UASLab/ImageAnalysis
You might say, holy **** the small data set is 3Gb?!?!? But this is exactly the point, the visualizer is letting you hunt through the full original image set (placed and stretched and aligned with each other) with no lost detail.
Sorry for interrupting the flow here, but the connection is that this is another open-source tool and it might be useful for certain use cases that aren't in the mainstream of generating DEM, orthomosaic overview, etc.
Curt (UMN Uav Lab)