Marco BLOCK-BERLITZ1 / Benjamin DUCKE2
(1HTW Dresden, Dresden, Germany / 2Independent research consultant, Berlin, Germany)

Keywords: 3D site recording, UAV, multi-view reconstruction, heritage management

The federal state of Saxony in south-east Germany boasts a rich archaeological heritage that encompasses tens of thousands of sites and registered monuments, bearing testimony to the cultural and historical importance of the region, both within Germany and Central Europe. The effective protection and curation of this valuable but finite resource requires innovative new technologies with a focus on accuracy, efficiency and intuitive design. The project “Archaeocopter” ( is committed to the design and development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for airborne image data acquisition in archaeology and related fields. In order to optimise the hardware and software design for real-world applications, the project’s research and development work is continuously supported and guided by the state heritage management authorities of Saxony, as well as by academic partners at the University of Applied Sciences Dresden, the Freie Universität Berlin and the German Archaeological Institute.
Our paper will discuss how the “Archaeocopter” project is working to develop time and cost efficient technologies for acquiring high-fidelity, high-resolution imagery and 3D data using ultralight UAV that are cheap to construct, easy to operate and geared towards applications in archaeology and heritage management. We will share insight into UAV design for archaeological applications and issues such as carrying capacity, flight stability and operational safety. Among our more challenging aims is the implementation of near-realtime 3D reconstruction, that would allow the operator to immediately validate data quality and density.