Automatic detection of earthquake-damaged buildings by integrating UAV oblique photography and infrared thermal imaging

Rui Zhang, Heng Li, Kaifeng Duan, Shucheng You, Ke Liu, Futao Wang, Yong Hu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Extracting damage information of buildings after an earthquake is crucial for emergency rescue and loss assessment. Low-altitude remote sensing by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for emergency rescue has unique advantages. In this study, we establish a remote sensing information-extraction method that combines ultramicro oblique UAV and infrared thermal imaging technology to automatically detect the structural damage of buildings and cracks in external walls. The method consists of four parts: (1) 3D live-action modeling and building structure analysis based on ultramicro oblique images; (2) extraction of damage information of buildings; (3) detection of cracks in walls based on infrared thermal imaging; and (4) integration of detection systems for information of earthquake-damaged buildings. First, a 3D live-action building model is constructed. A multi-view structure image for segmentation can be obtained based on this method. Second, a method of extracting information on damage to building structures using a 3D live-action building model as the geographic reference is proposed. Damage information of the internal structure of the building can be obtained based on this method. Third, based on analyzing the temperature field distribution on the exterior walls of earthquake-damaged buildings, an automatic method of detecting cracks in the walls by using infrared thermal imaging is proposed. Finally, the damage information detection and assessment system is researched and developed, and the system is integrated. Taking earthquake search-and-rescue simulation as an example, the effectiveness of this method is verified. The damage distribution in the internal structure and external walls of buildings in this area is obtained with an accuracy of 78%.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2621
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Damage detection
  • Oblique photography
  • Remote sensing
  • Thermal infrared
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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