A statistical examination of image stitching software packages for use with Unmanned Aerial Systems

John W. Gross, Benjamin W. Heumann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


There is growing demand for the collection of ultra-high spatial resolution imagery, such as is collected using unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Traditional methods of aerial photogrammetry are often difficult or time consuming to utilize due to the lack of sufficiently accurate ancillary information. The goal of this study was to compare geometric accuracy, visual quality, and price of three commonly available mosaicking software packages which offer a highly automated alternative to traditional methods: Photoscan Pro, Pix4D Pro Mapper, and Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE). A total of 223 images with a spatial resolution of 1.26 cm were collected by a UAS along with 70 ground control points. Microsoft Image Composite Editor had significantly fewer visual errors (Chi Square, p < .001), but it had the poorest geometric accuracy with a RMSE of 34.7 cm (Tukey-Kramer, p < 0.05). Photoscan had the most visual errors (Chi Square, p < 0.001), and a RMSE of 10.9 cm. Pix4D had the best geometric accuracy with a RMSE of 7.7 cm, however this was not found to be statistically different from Photoscan (Tukey-Kramer, p > 0.05). In terms of price, Microsoft Image Composite Editor was the least expensive while Pix4D was the most expensive, although specific pricing varies depending on the type of licensing needed. These results suggest that unless high geometric accuracy or 3D images are required, ICE is the best option for most UAS photogrammetric applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-425
JournalPhotogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2016


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