General Questions

LiDAR - Light Detection and Ranging, is a terrestrial optical remote-sensing technology that measures scattered light to find range and other information on a distant target. Similar to radar technology, which uses radio waves, the range to an object is determined by measuring the time delay between transmission of a pulse and detection of a reflected signal. Instead of radio waves, LiDAR uses much shorter wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, typically in the ultraviolet, visible, or near infrared range.
This technology allows the direct measurement of three-dimensional information. Depending on the methodology used to capture the data, the resultant data can be very dense. Such high resolution enables higher accuracy.
Also captured by the LiDAR sensors is the intensity of each return. The intensity value is a measure of the return signal strength. It measures the peak amplitude of return pulses as they are reflected back from the target to the detector of the LiDAR system. Intensity is often used as an aid in feature detection.

The ability to capture the XYZ information at high resolution is LiDAR’s principal advantage over conventional survey, such as Total station, GPS and digital cameras, for model creation. In Topography, the ability to simultaneously visualize the ground and model the canopy structure provides significant advantages to the planning industry. Traditionally, engineers and land managers have relied on topographic maps for terrain classification and field-based surveys to obtain the salient features of terrain. LiDAR data provides significant improvements over traditional techniques.

Primarily there are 3 modes of data collection

  • Airborne LiDAR
  • Terrestrial LiDAR
  • Mobile LiDAR
Aerial LiDAR is an aerial mapping technology which uses reflected laser returns from the earth’s surface to an aircraft with on-board GPS and INS sensors in order to determine the precise elevation and geospatial location of terrestrial objects and features.
A mobile LiDAR laser scanner is mounted in the Top of a motorable vehicle (usually a four wheeler or a railway cart) along with an Inertial Navigational System (INS) and Global Positioning System (GPS). The INS and GPS are necessary to accurately position the LiDAR unit, which is used in conjunction with surveyed ground-based locations in the project area. The LiDAR system projects thousands of laser pulses per second, thus creating a dense swath of laser points on the Earth’s surface. The reflected (returned) laser pulses are detected by the system which then, based on the time of travel and the vehicle position computes the latitude, longitude, and elevation of each reflection point.

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