ABSTRACT: In this short paper, the principles of single photon sensitive LiDAR are presented and compared against state-of-the-art full waveform, linear-mode LiDAR. The differences are explained in theory, and data of either technology are evaluated based on the City of Vienna dataset, captured in 2018 with the SPL100 (Leica) and VQ-1560i (Riegl), respectively. While SPL features a higher areal performance, waveform LiDAR turns out to be more precise, especially in complex target situations like natural or steep surfaces. Furthermore, the article summarizes current activities within EuroSDR concerning a potential Single Photon and linear-mode lidar benchmark.
1. INTRODUCTION In addition to conventional airborne laser scanning (ALS), single photon sensitive LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) became commercially available in the recent years. The higher receiver sensitivity enables higher flying altitudes resulting in an increased areal measurement performance, which makes this new technology especially interesting for National Mapping and Cadastral Agencies (NMCA) in the context of acquisition and updating of countrywide topographic datasets as is, e.g., already the case in the U.S. within the 3D Elevation Program (Sugarbaker et al., 2014). The new technologies come in two flavours: (i) Geiger-mode LiDAR (Clifton et al., 2015; Stoker et al., 2016), and (ii) Single Photon LiDAR (SPL) (Degnan, 2016). Both technologies enable measurement rates of 5MHz or more, can be operated from flying altitudes beyond 4000 m, and therefore provide single-strip swath widths of more than 2 km. The latter is at least a factor of 2 compared to conventional LiDAR, also referred to as linear-mode LiDAR1. However, the gain in areal measurement performance comes at the prize of a higher outlier rate and a lower measurement precision (Ullrich and Pfennigbauer, 2018), especially in complex target situations.
In this short paper, the theory of single photon sensitive laser scanning is briefly introduced in Section 2. Section 3 presents setup and evaluation results of a data acquisition in 2018 in Vienna, Austria. The aim of this pilot project was to test the feasibility of Single Photon lidar for high resolution 3D capturing of city areas and to compare the results against state-of-the-art Full Waveform Lidar data. Section 4 introduces the basic ideas and current status of a planned EuroSDR SPL benchmark. The paper ends with concluding remarks in Section 5.
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