An Integrated Method for Coding Trees, Measuring Tree Diameter, and Estimating Tree Positions

Sensors (Basel). 2019 Dec 24;20(1):144. doi: 10.3390/s20010144.


Accurately measuring tree diameter at breast height (DBH) and estimating tree positions in a sample plot are important in tree mensuration. The main aims of this paper include (1) developing a new, integrated device that can identify trees using the quick response (QR) code technique to record tree identifications, measure DBH, and estimate tree positions concurrently; (2) designing an innovative algorithm to measure DBH using only two angle sensors, which is simple and can reduce the impact of eccentric stems on DBH measures; and (3) designing an algorithm to estimate the position of the tree by combining ultra-wide band (UWB) technology and altitude sensors, which is based on the received signal strength indication (RSSI) algorithm and quadrilateral localization algorithm. This novel device was applied to measure ten 10 × 10 m square plots of diversified environments and various tree species to test its accuracy. Before measuring a plot, a coded sticker was fixed at a height of 1.3 m on each individual tree stem, and four UWB module anchors were set up at the four corners of the plot. All individual trees' DBHs and positions within the plot were then measured. Tree DBH, measured using a tree caliper, and the values of tree positions, measured using tape, angle ruler, and inclinometer, were used as the respective reference values for comparison. Across the plots, the decode rate of QR codes was 100%, with an average response time less than two seconds. The DBH values had a bias of 1.89 mm (1.88% in relative terms) and a root mean square error (RMSE) of 5.38 mm (4.53% in relative terms). The tree positions were accurately estimated; the biases on the x-axis and the y-axis of the tree position were -8.55-14.88 cm and -12.07-24.49 cm, respectively, and the corresponding RMSEs were 12.94-33.96 cm and 17.78-28.43 cm. The average error between the estimated and reference distances was 30.06 cm, with a standard deviation of 13.53 cm. The device is cheap and friendly to use in addition to its high accuracy. Although further studies are needed, our method provides a great alternative to conventional tools for improving the efficiency and accuracy of tree mensuration.

Keywords: angle sensor; forest inventory; quick response code technique; ultra-wide band technology.