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What Sets Drone LiDAR Apart?

Updated: Feb 10, 2020

Since 2015 Wohnrade Civil Engineers has been streamlining workflows for engineers and surveyors with geospatial data needs all along the Front Range and Rocky Mountain region.

Recently, we've added a top of the line Riegl miniVUX to our collection of sensors, enabling us to take our high-quality data products to a new level. This new capability allows us to provide high-density colorized LAS point clouds for clients with projects of all sizes. Continue reading to learn what sets drone LiDAR data apart from photogrammetry and even manned aerial LiDAR.

Vegetation Penetration

Like sunlight through the leaves of a forest, near-infrared light emitted from an airborne LiDAR unit is able to illuminate ground features. LiDAR’s unique ability to collect multiple point returns allows it to see beyond vegetated canopy surfaces and extract a much more accurate ground surface elevation. Comparatively, attempting to extract elevation data using photogrammetry can be an ineffective technique when mapping densely vegetated areas like forests, scrublands, and wetlands.

Higher Point Density and Accuracy

Because of a much lower flight height above ground and a slower airspeed, drone generated LiDAR data is distinctly higher quality when compared to traditional manned collections. Point cloud density is an important factor when comparing traditional manned aerial collections with UAS data collections.  Manned aerial data generally yields 10 points per square meter, whereas UAS LiDAR data typically yields 50 points per square meter. High-resolution imagery from a UAS platform generally results in a 1-inch pixel resolution.  Whereas, aerial imagery from traditional manned aerial collections yields a 2-in pixel resolution.  Which would you rather have for your project?

Accessibility and Affordability

Finally, the advent of UAS for performing aerial mapping has made the acquisition of high-quality LiDAR data affordable for projects of all sizes.  The mobilization cost for a UAS platform is significantly lower than traditional manned aerial collections. In our professional experience, most traditional LiDAR aerial mapping companies will not consider projects that are less than 5 square kilometers (2 square miles), due to high mobilization costs. You’ll be surprised to learn just how affordable our services are, contact us for a cost estimate today!

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