Weighing Trees with Lidar

It seems like an odd way to describe the work but researchers at the University College of London are reporting their success with the use of laser scanning to calculate the weight of living trees. They are claiming that this is a more accurate method than others for calculating the biomass of the tree.

The study authors believe it could be used in monitoring carbon stocks for climate policy. Both above-ground biomass and carbon stocks are important details for UN-REDD, the United Nations initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation that is striving to keep the destruction of forests in check and thereby preserve the uptake of carbon by trees.

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Quanergy Systems Funded for Lidar

Add another name to the list of unknown (to me) companies that claim to be a world leader in lidar. In addition to Bridger Photonics which we highlighted yesterday this press release from Quanergy Systems indicates that they are developing the world’s leading LiDAR sensors and software used for capturing and processing 3D mapping data in real time. They were founded in 2012 and are headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. They are a silicon valley start-up with serious investors that include Mercedes- Benz and Hyundai.

They are going after the transportation market, where the data will be utilized to greatly improve the accuracy and reliability of on-board driver safety systems and enhance them with object recognition and scenario analysis capability, as well as enable autonomous driving in the future. Quanergy has established early partnerships with global automotive, mining and digital mapping companies, and will be expanding its market footprint into logistics, robotics, aeronautics, security, and 3D-aware consumer electronics.

This is certain to lead to lower prices for laser scanners sooner rather than later. The established players better work on their SWOT analysis.



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Novel Lidar Will Detect Methane Leaks

Bridger Photonics, Inc. based in Bozeman, Montana was awarded a grant of $1.5 million by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a light detection and ranging (LiDAR) system capable of rapid and precise methane gas measurements resulting in 3D topographic information about potential leak locations.

A novel near infrared fiber laser will enable long range detection with high sensitivity and can be deployed on a range of mobile platforms to survey multiple sites per day. This mobile LiDAR system will dramatically reduce the cost to identify, quantify, and locate methane leaks compared to currently available technologies.

Bridger is a company we don’t hear about, but they are an important player.


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Undet Point Cloud Software

Hidden at the geographical centre of Europe, this Lithuanian software developer has been “flying under the lidar” – until recently when they announced an agreement Maltby Surveys as the first UK Company to purchase Undet Unlimited Network License.

Along with the price of the new tool, Maltby Surveys were also delighted about the functionality and productivity that Undet provides. A Chartered Surveyor and one of the company directors Andrew Maltby commented:

“It is very intuitive software that has all the functionality we need and even more. We were commissioned to carry out a Laser Scanning project at the National Space Centre, Leicester and this was our first live Undet project. The transition from Pointools Model was fairly painless and two dimensional plans and sections were derived in a similar time frame to Pointools, even at the first attempt”.


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Laser Scanning Used to Park Cars

valet_600-620x414 BMW has announced a new app that uses laser scanning to park your car autonomously. Set to make its public premiere at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas early next month, BMW’s so-called Remote Valet Parking Assistant allows its latest research vehicle to park itself fully automatically and then be hailed again – all via a simple spoken command into a smart watch app. WOW!


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Learn Mobile Lidar

Are you wondering what the truth is about the benefits of using mobile lidar for transportation applications? I was a member of the team that developed NCHRP Report 748 “Guidelines for the Use of Mobile LiDAR in Transportation Applications.”

We also developed an educational website (learnmobilelidar.com) that includes a number of easy to use and valuable extensions to the material contained in this document. If you are not taking advantage of this website you are missing an opportunity to educate yourself and others who could be taking advantage of this important resource.

Please help us to spread the word. Most people are not up to speed on this technology.

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Perspective Magazine

Here’s an interesting idea for a new magazine. Perspective is going to provide you with tomorrow’s news today. If you like the idea you can become an investor as they are raising money to get this launched via a Kickstarter campaign.

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Update on FAA UAS Exemption

I asked Trimble whether the people who purchase a UAV would be covered under their recent FAA exemption. The answer was no.

The noted, “In the near term, Trimble will use this exemption to begin conducting research activities, sales demonstrations, and flight training with our partners and customers within the US. We will also initiate commercial activity as we pursue follow on steps with the FAA.

In addition, we are working to determine how this exemption might be further leveraged to help our partners and customers. With Trimble’s authorization in place, we can directly support their needs where that is appropriate. Our customers and partners will also be able to apply for authorization to operate our UAS under the conditions of our exemption. We believe that these authorizations will be available on a more streamlined basis now that Trimble has received its exemption. We will communicate to our partners and customers as more information is available.”

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Lidar Tested at Space Station

LIRIS_lidar-617x202The use of lidar was recently tested on a docking procedure at the International Space Station.

The image on the left shows how far each element of the Space Station is from ATV-5, with arbitrarily chosen colors corresponding to their distance from LIRIS.

Russia’s Zvezda module, where Georges Lemaître now sits, shows up in green from 30 m, while the Soyuz was 15 m further away (yellow). The Station’s main truss is in purple, 40 m from Zvezda.

The advantage of the LIRIS approach is that it scans objects and gathers information about them without a dedicated communications link or hardware installed on the targets.

The sensors can track targets equally well during darkness and provide detailed 3D maps of an object, increasing the autonomy of a craft and allowing it to navigate around a target. LIRIS-type systems are needed for future ventures deeper into space and to help remove large pieces of debris from Earth orbit.

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Trimble Obtains FAA Exemption for UAS

Trimble was recently granted an exemption by the FAA that allows them to conduct commercial operation of its Trimble® UX5 Aerial Imaging Solution in the U.S.

The exemption was granted pursuant to Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which authorizes the FAA to grant exemptions from FAA rules limiting commercial operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) pending the adoption of permanent rules. Section 333 exemptions are intended to “provide a pathway for civil operators who desire safe and legal entry”1 into the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS).

Woolpert was also granted an exemption. They plan to use drones to collect imagery, analyze and measure the progress at construction sites.


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