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Benefits and Misconceptions of Drone Lidar

Point cloud of bridge Benefits and Misconceptions of Drone Lidar
Benefits and Misconceptions of Drone Lidar

As a specialist in drone equipment and software, Matt Rosenbalm educates potential customers on drone-enabled data collection and processing tools. Recently, he was a guest of Randall Warnas on Unmanned Underground to discuss the benefits and misconceptions relating to LiDAR data capture. We’ve summarized their discussion for your convenience, but for the complete interview, see below.

From a GeoCue enewsletter.

Warnas: Dispel the myths of LiDAR.

Rosenbalm: I think one of the biggest things is the accuracy. There are so many variables when it comes to aerial LiDAR, and you have to remember that it’s not just a scanner. There are so many moving parts, and these parts have an error budget. The LiDAR scanner might be accurate to within 10 millimeters, but the GPS is only accurate within three centimeters.

So, you have to set your expectations of what can be achieved. Most of the time, people are looking for the best accuracy, but that might not be that important if what you’re looking to build are one-foot contours on a topographic map somewhere. Find the sensor that works best for what you’re trying to accomplish.

Warnas: How is the capture of LiDAR data different from flying these missions with an RGB camera?

Rosenbalm: They’re relatively the same. However, the biggest difference is that with the LiDAR sensor you have a base station that is logging data. After landing, the GPS data from the scanner will be used to correct the positioning of the data.

Also, if you’re out flying an RGB camera, you’re going to spend hours having your computer crunch the data to stitch those photographs together for a point cloud. With LiDAR, you can produce a point cloud 10 minutes after you land and can begin manipulating the data immediately.

Warnas: What industries are getting the most out of LiDAR?

Rosenbalm: In the beginning, larger surveying and mapping companies were the ones using it the most. But now, smaller firms have seen the timesaving and cost benefits. Instead of spending hours, days, or even weeks cutting through the forest with a machete to get a topographic map, they can use LiDAR to penetrate that canopy of vegetation for ground shots. With LiDAR, you can build a more accurate representation of the terrain.
And using it with a drone is more convenient and affordable than using a helicopter or airplane and paying a pilot. Putting a drone up in the sky to fly those couple of miles for corridor mapping is more practical.

For the complete article benefits and misconceptions CLICK HERE.

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