3. 2003: ULTRACAM-D INTRODUCTION

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3.1 Sufficiently Advanced Computer Technology

Large image formats and high repeat rates result in data rates at 3 Gigabits per second and image data at initially 350 Mbytes per photo. Desirable image overlaps produced thousands of photos where previously only hundreds were taken. By 2003 the TByte had become manageable in a modern photogrammetric office and this matched the needs of a digital aerial camera. It may well have been for this reason that 2003 became the kick-off year for all digital aerial camera installations.

 

3.2 The “Film-is-Dead” Syndrome

The initial camera introductions in 2000 were timid. It was still unclear why one should abandon film. But by 2003 we could see and argue the end of aerial film. This was greatly doubted, even considered overly brash. However, the many advantages of digital over film were increasingly recognized. As seen from today’s perspective, was a 2003-message of “film is dead” the right signal?

 

3.3 The R&D Project and Schedule

The UltraCam was developed by a team that grew from 1 person in September 2001 to ~ 10 persons by 2003. As much work was contracted out as possible, however with a strong concern that all intellectual property on electronics, optics, mechanics and software would remain in-house. The core in-house teams were in electronics and software.

 

Manufacturing was entirely contracted out to Wild in Austria. Optics developments were initially accomplished by Schneider and later by the Rodenstock-spinout LINOS. A flying product and full operation were achieved by April 2003, thus within 18 months and after an investment of about 12 person-years.