Marco BLOCK1 / Benjamin DUCKE2 / Markus KUBBUTAT
(1HTW Dresden / 2Indenpendent Researcher, Germany)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) constitute flexible and low-cost carrier systems for photogrammetry and aerial surveys. Important archaeological use cases for this technology include 3D site recording, the production of ortho-rectified aerial imagery and the derivation of digital elevation models. However, ease-of-use and stable flight operation, especially in severe weather conditions, remain challenging issues, as do carrying capacity and battery life. Our video showcases hardware produced by the “Archaeocopter” project (, a cooperation of the University of Applied Sciences Dresden, the state heritage management authorities of Saxony, the Free University Berlin and the German Archaeological Institute. We show live-action footage from historical sites in Saxony, Germany, that demonstrates the agility and the precision of control that modern UAV hardware can provide. We also demonstrate the data processing toolchain that turns video footage into accurate,  high-resolution and true-to-scale 3D site models. Computational complexity is alleviated by GPU-based processing that enables rapid previews of the 3D models, allowing the operator to plan optimal flight paths on site. As our video will show, the Archaeocopter has generated considerable media interest and has done a formidable job in bringing together archaeology, heritage management and computer sciences. We hope that you, too, will be captivated by the elegance of UAV-based site recording and will enjoy the spectacular views of historical sites, as seen through the eyes of the Archaeocopter.

Keywords: drone, 3d-reconstruction, archaeology