This paper investigates the accuracy of models obtained by drone surveys. To this end, this work analyzes how the placement of ground control points (GCPs) used to georeference the dense point cloud of a dam affects the resulting three-dimensional (3D) model. Images of a double arch masonry dam upstream face are acquired from drone survey and used to build the 3D model of the dam for vulnerability analysis purposes. However, there still remained the issue of understanding the real impact of a correct GCPs location choice to properly georeference the images and thus, the model. To this end, a high number of GCPs configurations were investigated, building a series of dense point clouds. The accuracy of these resulting dense clouds was estimated comparing the coordinates of check points extracted from the model and their true coordinates measured via traditional topography. The paper aims at providing information about the optimal choice of GCPs placement not only for dams but also for all surveys of high-rise structures. The knowledge a priori of the effect of the GCPs number and location on the model accuracy can increase survey reliability and accuracy and speed up the survey set-up operations.
Keywords: UAV; accuracy; dam survey; dense point cloud; ground control point; marker optimization; monitoring; vulnerability analysis.