LiDAR 101

Understand the basics of LiDAR technology


Drone LiDAR Technology

LiDAR Basics

To understand whether LiDAR might be appropriate for your agency’s surveying project needs, you’ll need a thorough understanding of the accuracy and data requirements for the project at hand. By mapping out these critical components in advance you’ll be able to get a handle on the appropriate LiDAR solution, including the hardware, software, and ground control. Why? Because a thorough understanding of the type of project you’re undertaking will help you determine the ground control of the project. For example, a corridor mapping project will be conducted differently from a county-wide collection. A mobile-mapping collection is a whole different animal from a terrestrial or airborne collection.


LiDAR is really no different from conventional surveying in this regard — you always need to set the requirements for the LiDAR project upfront. This will allow you to determine whether you need to collect your data through aerial, terrestrial, or mobile methods (read more about these collection methods in Chapter 2). Likewise, you need to take the seasons into consideration — a corridor collection can sometimes happen when the leaves are still on the trees, but sometimes it can’t, depending on the application. While there are some scenarios, like timber assessments, that involve forestry where you’ll be doing a full “leaf-on” collection, some locations never have full “leaf-off” conditions. If you’re conducting a transportation or transmission collection, an environmental impact assessment might be required. LiDAR’s pretty powerful, but it’s not Superman. It can’t “see” through stuff. It can’t peer through clouds; it’s foiled by fog; and it can’t see if there’s smoke. If it’s wet out, it’s going to rain on your LiDAR parade.



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