Document Type


Open Access Pre-Print


Numerous biological and archaeological studies have demonstrated the legitimacy of remote sensing in anthropology. This article focuses on detecting and documenting terrestrial clandestine graves and surface remains (CGSR) of humans using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), sensors, and automatic processing algorithms. CGSR is a problem of complex decision making under uncertainty that requires the identification and intelligent reasoning about direct evidence of human remains and their environmental fingerprints. As such, it is as much an engineering and geospatial problem as it is an anthropology problem. This article is an effort to survey existing work across disciplines and to provide insights and recommendations to assist future research. To support our claims, preliminary experiments were performed at the Forensic Anthropological Research Facility at Texas State University using UAVs, hyperspectral imaging, thermal imaging, and structure from motion. Prior work, our experience, and preliminary results indicate that both great potential and extreme challenges face remote sensing of CGSR.