Aerial LiDAR… What It Is and How it Benefits Various Projects

Aerial LiDAR and How it Benefits Various Projects

Who, What, Where, When, and Why of Aerial LiDAR

In the last two years, the drone industry has provided one of the sharpest hockey sticks any industry has seen. A normal electronic device may see a change once a year but drone technology changes at a much more rapid pace. With a recent push of autonomous vehicles, drone-based LiDAR has benefited greatly and in coming days will hopefully continue to see a price push and easily attainable equipment.

So what is drone-based LiDAR? Through this post, I will go over the 5W’s… Who, What, Where, When, and Why in hopes that you will better understand this incredible technological advancement.

How Does LiDAR Remote Sensing Work? Light Detection and Ranging

Who benefits from Aerial LiDAR?

Who benefits from drone-based LiDAR? Many different industries would say everyone benefits from drone-based LiDAR. We have found our ideal client is someone within civil engineering, environmental engineering, structural engineering, and surveying companies. That doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be more clients that could benefit from aerial LiDAR but the nature and price associated apply best with those mentioned above.

What is Aerial LiDAR and What Deliverables?

First, let’s describe what LiDAR is. A simple search of a definition is that of “a detection system which works on the principle of radar, but uses light from a laser.” Simply put, a rotating laser shoots a beam out, when that beam hits an object and bounces back those details are recorded.


What types of deliverables does the ideal client seek from aerial LiDAR? Civil engineering companies ideally prefer to gain deliverables such as topography mapping and 3D point clouds. Environmental engineering often seeks the same topography mapping to help with remediation planning for environmental issues. Structural engineering companies will use 3D point clouds to help with very ornate and difficult structural projects to either replicate or add to existing conditions within a project. Surveying companies will often use aerial lidar where traditional laser scanning cannot easily reach or the employees cannot easily get to the area to be scanned.

Where is Aerial LiDAR Used?

Often aerial LiDAR is most beneficial in areas where traditional methods cannot easily reach or the budget does not permit or traditional methods. Examples of these areas could be heavily wooded areas, strangely wet locations, highly unsafe locations such as extremely pitched roofs or other precarious locations such as a church or similar location, locations where time is important such as landslides around oil and gas locations where traditional methods may take multiple days to complete where aerial LiDAR could be accomplished in less than an hour. Other locations such as busy streets can also benefit from the technology as it will permit the flow of traffic to be least impacted.


When is Aerial LiDAR Called On?

We find our clients are open to using aerial LiDAR when one of two needs arise. First being that of a budget, second being that of time. If they have a budget constraint and cannot afford the costs associated with bringing in a large survey crew or a fixed-wing/rotor, drone-based LiDAR is ideal. If the constraint is based on time, oftentimes aerial LiDAR can accomplish quite a bit more than traditional methods in a shorter amount of time.

Why use Aerial LiDAR?

Why do our clients choose to use drone-based LiDAR? Most of our clients have already experienced some form of aerial LiDAR, be it fixed-wing/rotor or in early stages of drone-based LiDAR. They are well aware of the benefits and now find there are more needs to incorporate it into their workflow to remain competitive and accomplish projects quickly.


So in conclusion, drone-based LiDAR has opened up a ton of new opportunities that our clients are extremely excited to explore and incorporate. As autonomous vehicles continue their push into our environment, drone-based LiDAR will only benefit from these advancements and continue to push the drone industry further.

Aerial LiDAR… What It Is and How it Benefits Various Projects

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