(Landesamt für Archäologie, Dresden, , Germany)

Keywords: low-cost UAV, quadrocopter, Structure from Motion

In recent years, the use of multicopters as sensor platforms for the documentation of archaeological monuments and excavations has become quite popular. With a digital camera mounted, they can provide image data for overviews or further processing using SfM (Structure from Motion) software.
Nevertheless, until now, only a small number of specialists really use multicopters. Sophisticated copters are either expensive to buy or can only be build by yourself with specific knowledge and skills. Since the release of DJIs “Phantom”, a relatively cheap, easy to operate and astoundingly robust quadrocopter has been available. Equipped with a so called actioncam, an “off-the-shelf” system has been tested by the Saxony Archaeological Heritage Office in cooperation with the archaeocopter-project ( The obtained image data was then processed to 3D-models and orthographic images.
The presented examples range from medieval excavations with complex three dimensional structures to larger areas containing prehistoric features. An overview of the possibilities and limitations of the used hardware will be given as well as the requirements imposed on the operator and a short introduction to legal restrictions.