Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) equipped with Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology offer a range of advantages over traditional aerial and ground LiDAR. This technology works by sending out pulses of laser light and measuring the time it takes for the light to hit an object and return to the sensor. The pulses are sent in nanoseconds, creating a fast way to scan areas and generate complete, high-precision 3D images for elevation maps and more. Above all, LiDAR technology provides incredibly accurate and consistent results. The short wavelength can even detect small objects and create exact 3D models, allowing us to identify what the objects are, be it a tree, a person or a wall.
Given the speed and large area that can be scanned, along with the high-precision results, LiDAR is significantly cheaper than other topography and mapping methods. It's an affordable way to produce complex topographic studies. The speed, cost and enormous volume of high-precision data often make LiDAR the right choice, but it's important to understand the drawbacks when planning to use it. A LiDAR drone is any aerial drone with a connected LiDAR sensor. The LiDAR works by precisely measuring the distance from the drone to the ground.
A laser is fired millions of times from the LiDAR scanner to the ground while the drone flies in a predetermined pattern. As each pulse of light is emitted, the exact time when the light is triggered is recorded. When the light pulse is reflected, the scanner detects the return and re-sets the exact time when the light returned. If you are looking to set up your own LiDAR workshop, a large investment in both the LiDAR sensor and personnel is required. This LiDAR sensor detects targets with a range of up to 215 meters and has a lightweight of 75 grams, making it an excellent lightweight LiDAR sensor that will work with several drones.
As mentioned above, LiDAR drones and their associated sensors can save millions of dollars in various sectors, so as the cost of entry continues to drop, it is almost certain that LiDAR drone technology will continue to be implemented in many industries.
The Cost of Entry for LiDAR TechnologyHowever, LiDAR technology which used to cost thousands of dollars now only costs a couple hundred dollars and in a few years even these LiDAR sensors will start to come down in price. Next we will analyze the different ways in which LiDAR is currently being used and we will also discuss some of the best LiDAR sensors for drones currently on the market. With just a few years of collaboration between UAV technology and LIDAR technology, impossible topographic challenges are becoming increasingly simple tasks. Different combinations of LiDAR sensors and drone models and designs will produce different types of results and in some cases LiDAR may not be the best method for 3D modeling.
The Best Use Cases for UAVs Equipped with LiDARFor those responsible for construction, public services, surveys and research it's worth exploring further into the advantages of unmanned aerial vehicles that carry LiDAR.
The best LiDAR drone for building inspection may not be the best for planning irrigation so it's important to know your intended use case before purchasing your LiDAR sensor. These advances together with advances in the technology used to integrate drones with LiDAR data have led to a rapid increase in companies using drones equipped with LiDAR as a comprehensive full-scale 3D mapping system. With LiDAR drones both the drone itself, its associated sensor and integration between them are equally important.