Fighting Wildfires with UAS

fire-1-nasaThis excellent  article discusses the use of UAS, satellites and lidar to fight wildfires. The Fort McMurray wildfire in Canada, imaged above with the Japanese satellite Suomi NPP burned for more than six weeks and is now the largest on record.

Lidar is being used to get a better understanding of the composition of the fuel bed.

From the article, “The primary goal in using UAS technology on wildland fires is to supply incident management teams (IMT) with real-time data products regarding fire size and growth, fire behavior, fuels, and areas of heat concentration. All these issues have to be taken into consideration in fighting wildfires today, so having the latest technology is important.”

The following video presents a powerful case for the use of UAS to fight wildfires.


Posted in Environmental, Mapping, remote sensing, satellites, UAS, UAVs | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Calibration of a Lidar and Camera System

mobileThis paper presents a detailed methodology for calibration 0f a lidar sensor and camera system.

These researchers from Korea propose a robust extrinsic calibration algorithm that can be implemented easily and has small calibration error. The extrinsic calibration parameters are estimated by minimizing the distance between corresponding features projected onto the image plane. The features are edge and centerline features on a v-shaped calibration target.

The proposed algorithm contributes two ways to improve the calibration accuracy. First, we use different weights to distance between a point and a line feature according to the correspondence accuracy of the features. Second, we apply a penalizing function
to exclude the influence of outliers in the calibration datasets. Additionally, based on our robust calibration approach for a single LiDAR-camera pair, we introduce a joint calibration that estimates the extrinsic parameters of multiple sensors at once by minimizing one objective function with loop closing constraints.


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FAA Announces UAS Regs

drone__20160203120903_ZHFrom the FAA press release,

Today, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration has finalized the first operational rules (PDF) for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or “drones”), opening pathways towards fully integrating UAS into the nation’s airspace. These new regulations work to harness new innovations safely, to spur job growth, advance critical scientific research and save lives.

“We are part of a new era in aviation, and the potential for unmanned aircraft will make it safer and easier to do certain jobs, gather information, and deploy disaster relief,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We look forward to working with the aviation community to support innovation, while maintaining our standards as the safest and most complex airspace in the world.”

According to industry estimates, the rule could generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.

The new rule, which takes effect in late August, offers safety regulations for unmanned aircraft drones weighing less than 55 pounds that are conducting non-hobbyist operations.

See the rules for all of the details and let is know what you think.



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Lidar Could Detect Clear – Air Turbulence

windFrom this article in Popular Mechanics they explain,

“These days, airlines and air traffic controllers are very, very good at routing planes around the clouds and thunderstorms that bring heavy turbulence, because these weather events show up in neon colors on any radar sweep. What’s harder to avoid is “clear-air turbulence”—a form of wind shear invisible to radar that occurs when layers of air of different density swarm around each other at extremely variable rates of speed.”

The result can be horrifying as seen in the following video.

One possible solution is the use of lidar to detect the density of air in front of it by how much light is reflected back. If a pilot suddenly saw a patch of air with wildly varying densities, they could possible dive or climb to avoid the rough patch, or at least be able to have everyone strap in before the shaking starts.

So far none of the airlines are using this approach.

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Preserving History in 3D

Credit - Deshi Dang

Credit – Deshi Deng

This article in Scientific American provides an important introduction to the use of 3D laser scanning for preserving important historic sites around the world as well as justification for why we should be investing more in their documentation.

From the article,”Across 163 different countries, 1,000 natural and cultural historic places constitute our most precious human heritage. UNESCO calls them World Heritage Sites, and they range from the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s endangered Virunga National Park to Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra to Mount Rushmore in the U.S.”

Hopefully the fact that this article is in Scientific American will help to raise awareness for this important cause.


Posted in 3D Modeling, cultural heritage, Historic Preservation | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

FAA to Announce UAS Rules

droneThe Wall Street Journal is reporting that the FAA could release the long anticipated rules for UAS as early as tomorrow. This would allow UAS weighing roughly 50 pounds to fly at low altitudes only in daylight and within sight of operators – nothing new there.

Stay tuned for updates and please let me know if you hear anything.

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Contributions of LiDAR to Ecosystem Service Planning and Markets

ama 2This paper reviews the drivers and co-benefits of expanded LiDAR data investment by local government entities and presents a case study of forest carbon markets in California to illuminate how this investment compares to investment in the acquisition of field sampling and other ecosystem data.

The study suggests that LiDAR can be cost-competitive with traditional field-sampling approaches under certain conditions or assumptions, and it may offer advantages and some benefits that may not accrue from field-based approaches.

In addition, the study reinforces the conclusion of other research that conditions, approach, and assumptions strongly influence analysis outcomes, in turn reinforcing the need to tailor analyses to the research question at hand. Although the case study lends insight into the tools available for assessing the costs and benefits of LiDAR data acquisition, several uncertainties remain, including how LiDAR and other improved data fit into national policy dialogues and program funding discussions.

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Animating Point Clouds

WhiteFirebrigade_zeb1_timespan (00000002)In past years, I have developed much interest in game engines and using them for animating remote sensing observations that we do mostly with laser scanners nowadays.

The laser scanning point clouds are very dense, they contain so much detail. In the past, I remember complaining about not having high density data and not having high accuracy when I create 3D models. However, in the last few years, with the advance laser scanning sensor devices, I found myself complaining about how big the point clouds are and how much detail they contain. The intensity of details and measurement accuracy became “too much” especially when the data wanted to be visualized in an informative way.

I found it a great idea to combine the simulation ideas I got from the game engines with the laser scanning points assuming them as individual particles or particle groups to animate.

Animating point clouds gave opportunity to;

  • Make the details visible when they are wanted
  • Make the scanning trajectories visible
  • Show object detection or other process results visible in an informative way like a movie
  • Show change detections not only as before/after views, but also like movies as if the event is happening slowly (points are moving from their old positions to the new positions). In this way, the changes are shown clearly to the eyes of the observer.

The video that I am sharing with the link below shows some example point cloud animations about;

  • Trajectory of the laser scanner during the scanning process (See the person walking in the corridors, visiting rooms and climbing the staircases)
  • The points which are acquired at different scanning positions

Link to the video:

If you wish to apply point cloud animations in your applications, I will be very happy to discuss. Therefore, please contact me at

Posted in 3D Modeling, Research | Tagged | 2 Comments

Oblique + Nadir + Lidar

Leica_RealCity_pic_655x180This is certainly an indication from Leica GeoSystems that they intend to be a player in cities of the future. Appropriately the new strategy is being labeled Leica RealCity and as you will see in the video it is grand vision of how Leica will play its part in the 3D intelligent cities space.

Leica Geosystems has launched Leica CityMapper as part of the RealCity 3D reality capture solution, enabling professionals to collect and process imaging and Lidar data in a single sensor. The Leica CityMapper is the world’s first hybrid airborne sensor combining oblique and nadir imaging as well as a LiDAR system into one sensor.


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Lidar News Today – 6/16/16

Blog Forum AdThis week’s Lidar News Today is highlighting a number of interesting topics including an inside look at a firm based in Florida that has built a reputation for being experts in merging hydrographic and 3D laser scan data. The FHWA has recently published an introductory guide to the use of lidar for transportation applications.

We also report on planned GPS outages that will be taking place this month in the Southwest. It seems that the military is doing some testing in this area and needs to deny GPS signals to the commercial sector.

Thank you for your ongoing support. If you have an article of interest please let us know and be sure to tell a friend about Lidar News.

Posted in 3D Modeling, Business Development, Data, Mobile LiDAR, Technology, The Industry | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment