Drone LiDAR & Airborne LiDAR Systems for UAV
By Technology EditorLast updated: August 11th, 2022
Aerial LiDAR Scanners for Drones, UAV & UAS
Top Drone LiDAR manufacturers include: Teledyne Geospatial, Riegl, Yellowscan, LightWare and PolyExplore. Their airborne LiDAR systems are designed for use on drone platforms, UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and UAS (unmanned aerial systems) and are used for 3D mapping, survey and inspection.
YellowScan-Vx20 UAV LiDAR
LiDAR Technology for Unmanned Systems
Lidar, or LiDAR (a portmanteau of light and radar, also interpreted as an acronym for “Light Detection And Ranging”), is a distance-measuring and imaging technology that uses pulses of light in the form of a laser beam from the ultraviolet, visible and infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
These pulses of light are reflected, typically via backscattering, by the object under measurement. The LiDAR sensor measures the time taken for the pulse reflection to return and can thus calculate the distance from the object.
Drone LiDAR Systems & Scanning Methods
LightWare SF45 microLiDAR
There are two general methods of detection – incoherent or direct energy detection, which is used for amplitude measurements, and coherent detection, for phase-sensitive measurements. LiDAR can be used to scan a wide variety of materials and the wavelength of the emitted laser is varied to suit the target.
Drone-Mounted LiDAR Scanners
When combined with a GPS receiver, inertial measurement unit (IMU) and onboard computer, a LiDAR sensor can be installed on a drone or UAV and used to scan a large area, with tens of thousands of points per second being measured.
The reflection time interval data is post-processed, converted to distance and correlated with data from the GPS receiver and IMU, which provide highly accurate information on the unmanned aircraft’s position and attitude respectively. The resulting 3D point cloud can be used to build up a detailed image of the surveyed area and provide vital insights to decision-makers.
What is lidar used for?
Long-range LiDAR scanning for UAV by CHC Navigation
LiDAR mapping and surveying is used to gather accurate, precise data on both manmade and natural environments. Applications include cartography, agriculture, forestry, meteorology, mining, environmental management, inspection of utility lines and transport networks, and many other fields.
LiDAR is also used in UAVs and other unmanned systems for obstacle detection, collision avoidance and safe automatic landing. It is currently one of the leading technologies being utilized in the development of autonomous driving vehicles and self-driving cars.
Pulses of light from an ultraviolet, visible or infrared laser beam are reflected, typically via backscattering, by an object under measurement. The LiDAR sensor measures the time taken between emission of the pulse and the detection of the pulse reflection, and can thus calculate the distance from the object.