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How drone based LIDAR is changing the game

There’s no denying that drones have fully integrated themselves into our everyday lives and that of industries around the world. New related technologies are being developed and implemented all the time to help bring new opportunities to businesses and projects, a key one being LIDAR.

In today’s post, we’re going to explore what LIDAR technology is, why it’s being used with drone device technology, and how it’s being used in construction industries and markets, as well as why it’s probably going to expand in popularity over the coming years.

What is LIDAR Technology?

Drone-based LIDAR is the technology used to help construction projects managers accurately complete a straightforward task; to capture incredibly high-quality elevation data that are insanely accurate and allows for the most precise measurements.

LIDAR technology, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, uses sensors that emit laser beams that shoot down to the ground and bounces back. The distance of the laser and back to the sensor is then measured and recorded.

This technology is currently used for creating super detailed 3D maps and models of landscapes, buildings, and human-made objects, which then opens the floodgates for a whole new range of creative possibilities when it comes to planning and innovation.

Is It Better than Photogrammetry?

Up until now, photogrammetry has been used to carry out this and similar tasks while surveying areas. However, the two are very different. Photogrammetry uses photographs (as the name suggests) to try and measure the distance between two different objects or points, whereas LIDAR uses lasers, which is simply far more accurate.

LIDAR can even go as far as detailing when vegetation appears on the ground and how dense it is, which is a technology previously non-existent and would take countless man-hours to incorporate into planning.

However, what really brings LIDAR into the limelight is the level of accuracy it can provide. In fact, in high-fidelity modes, a LIDAR drone can provide detailed information of 100-500 data points per square meter with an impressive accuracy of 2-3 centimeters. This is previously unfathomable.

How is LIDAR Data Collected?

When surveying an area of land, the operator of the drone needs to ensure that a flight plan is developed where you can get an ample number of overlaps to ensure the ground is properly covered and the lasers can penetrate vegetation properly and accurately.

There are a ton of different factors that also need to be considered, including the altitude, speed, and line spacing, as well as other factors like weather conditions and structures present within the area.

Man-made structures, such as buildings or towers, tend to absorb a lot of light and can dramatically affect how the laser is bounced back to the sensor. This has resulted in flight plans needing to be adjusted since more accurate readings can only be collected when flying at lower altitudes.

When using LIDAR technology yourself, it’s important to ensure that you’re using the technology in a cost-effective way since it can be expensive if not managed properly, especially when you consider the price of drones and unmanned aircraft technology. Nevertheless, LIDAR technology has proven to be effective in both one-time applications and extensive, long-term projects.

How is LIDAR Being Used?

As LIDAR is optimized and innovated upon, more and more uses are being discovered all the time, and, as the title suggests, it’s true that the technology is really changing the game for industries around the world.

For example, drones are being flown over certain areas, and resulting maps are being developed to highlight, survey, and monitor grounds where assets such as towers and wind turbines could and have been built.

In areas that are prone to flooding, LIDAR is being used to provide much improved accurate measurements that can help improve risk assessment outcomes and enhances the ability to create more effective emergency planning processes.

In areas of the world affected by drought, the vegetation density technology is being used to improve drainage systems that allows water to be used more efficiently.

As you can see, there’s a lot that LIDAR can provide, and this is only going to expand over the coming years as the technology gets better and more renowned. There are practically no limits to where LIDAR can go, and it’s definitely interesting to think about how it will be used in the future.

Note: This is a guest blog by Ashley Halsey, a professional writer at Luckyassignments.com who has been involved in many LIDAR projects 

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