Professionals who work in construction, engineering, surveying, or land development have probably either experienced or considered the awesome power of drone lidar to improve workflows. As technology transforms these industries, professionals are able to collect better data in a fraction of the time.
From an article in Novus Light by Matt Rosenbalm.
But it’s not just the ease of use and sensor capabilities that make a difference for experts who use UAV integrated systems. Users also benefit from vastly improved data processing and visualization.
This added layer of time-savings, within the context of a project that has already been streamlined by drone-based lidar, amounts to impressive efficiency and profitability. By improving every step of the process, companies that use integrated unmanned aerial solutions are able to complete more projects, more quickly.
Lidar in action
Microdrones, is a provider of integrated unmanned aerial solutions. The company offers UAV lidar and photogrammetry based mapping, surveying and inspection packages, such as the mdLiDAR3000, that allow companies to collect data efficiently and safely while cutting costs, saving time, and converting data into useful information.
The Microdrones team recently performed such a comparison with a surveying group in Southern California. The group planned to send a team of six people to survey a highly vegetated job site by hand for two weeks.
Using the mdLiDAR3000, the group was able to collect this data in a single 13-minute flight. Microdrones flew this flight at 50 meters altitude, with 50% overlap between flight lines, at a speed of three meters per second. Rather than having six people on site for two weeks walking with GPS and staking it out, a team of two can send a drone into the air, cover the area in a day, maybe add a second day for post-processing, and end up with similar — if not better — data than the team would collect using traditional methods.
All of this is accomplished with one solution from Microdrones that combines the heavy-lifting md4-3000 drone with a Riegl lidar sensor and a Sony camera. The mdLiDAR3000 also includes flight planning and data processing software. Together, these components make it easy and quick to produce colorized point clouds.
Users also appreciate that this system eliminates the frustration and time involved in dealing with on-site vegetation. Where they used to spend hours cutting line to topo the site, they no longer need to do that with our system.
Doubling down with data
Efficiency in data collection explains why drone-based lidar is becoming widespread for applications like corridor mapping, mining, contour mapping, construction site monitoring, and forestry — but it’s only part of the story. The last, and lesser known, step in revolutionizing these applications is streamlined data processing.
To understand the unique ways in which Microdrones slashes data processing time requires knowledge of direct georeferencing (DG) technology. DG integrates an advanced GNSS receiver with an Applanix IMU paired directly with the payload. This helps to determine the exterior orientation without the need for aerial triangulation techniques necessary with 95% of the other drone-based solutions on the market.
Direct georeferencing enables corridor mapping. It also reduces or eliminates the need to go out and set up a bunch of ground control points on your site. That saves a lot of time. But another important distinction is that direct georeferencing reduces side lap and end lap. Because you’re taking fewer photos, you’re collecting less data, which significantly reduces your post-processing time.
All of the collected and georeferenced data is stored on the drone during flight. A local base station, smart base, local network, or smart target with a dual-frequency receiver also gathers static data on the location during the flight.
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