Light Detection and Range (LiDAR) is a measurement technique that utilizes the light emitted by a sensor to measure the range of a target object. The sensor emits a pulse of light and then measures the time needed to receive the reflected pulse to estimate the range of the target object, given the constant of the speed of light. Modern LiDAR sensors have multiple lasers or channels, from 8 to 128, that can produce up to 2.2 million dots per second. The LiDAR unit scans from side to side, and some have a full 360-degree horizontal field of view (FOV), creating a very dense point cloud that represents the surrounding area.
A LiDAR drone is a drone that carries a LiDAR sensor for data collection. The data collected by LIDAR-equipped drones can be used to create 3D models down to the smallest detail, allowing users to identify features, structures or areas of interest in perfect detail. Agriculture is another industry that will benefit greatly from the hyper-accurate maps provided by LiDAR drones. It is important to know the intended use case before purchasing the LiDAR sensor. Advances in technology have led to an increase in companies using drones equipped with LiDAR as a comprehensive, full-scale 3D mapping system.
The best LiDAR drone for building inspection may not be the best for planning irrigation, so it's important to know the intended use case before purchasing the LiDAR sensor. The sensor detects targets with a range of up to 215 meters and has a light weight of 75 grams, making it a fantastic and lightweight LiDAR sensor that will work with several drones. To ensure that LiDAR data is precisely georeferenced, direct georeferencing is required, using an accurate GNSS receiver and an inertial measurement unit (IMU) that measures the posture (orientation and positioning) of the LiDAR sensor. Different combinations of LiDAR sensors and drone models and designs will produce different types of results and, in some cases, LiDAR is not the best method for 3D modeling. The cost of entry for using LiDAR drones continues to plummet, making it almost certain that LiDAR drone technology will continue to be implemented in several sectors. While there are all-in-one drones and full-service LiDAR packages, hobbyists, enthusiasts, or even smaller companies may find it more cost-effective to invest in a high-quality LiDAR sensor.
This type of sensor integrates a LiDAR sensor and an RGB camera to simultaneously acquire point cloud data and visible light images, resulting in a high-density true color dot cloud with a vertical accuracy greater than 2 cm without terrestrial control points. To ensure that data collected by a lidar uav is valid and reliable for analysis and decision-making purposes, it is important to use direct georeferencing with an accurate GNSS receiver and an inertial measurement unit (IMU). Additionally, investing in high-quality LiDAR sensors can help guarantee accuracy and precision when collecting data. As technology continues to advance, it is likely that the cost of entry for using LiDAR drones will continue to decrease.