LiDAR Drone Uses
LiDAR drones are being used in a multitude of different ways across a wide range of industries.
Below are the most common areas in which LiDAR scanner drones are revolutionizing the world of 3D-mapping.
- Accident Scenes
- Law Enforcement
LiDAR systems typically use ultraviolet or near-infrared signals to map an area, meaning that they can operate with little to no external light—and this makes them perfect for use at night, especially in emergency situations like automobile accidents.
In a single pass, LiDAR drones can capture and produce a comprehensive 3D map of any accident that may require emergency services. Whether it’s a late-night Interstate pileup or a fender bender on a snowy rural road, a LiDAR drone can create an accurate and exhaustive report of any emergency situation before first responders even arrive.
BENEFITS OF LIDAR DRONES FOR ACCIDENT SCENES
- Triage assistance. With accurate information and a sweeping knowledge of visual details that otherwise may have been unknown, emergency services on the scene can spend those first critical minutes rescuing citizens and saving lives instead of spending time assessing the situation.
- Accident reconstruction. In addition to creating 3D models of an accident scene using LiDAR data, most LiDAR drones have a visual camera in addition to a LiDAR payload, and the visual data they collect can be presented as evidence in court as an accurate and neutral account reflecting the potential cause or result of an accident.
- Clean up. The maps that LiDAR drones provide can help wreckers or sanitation crews deal with the fallout of an accident at a much faster rate.
- Savings. LiDAR drones are typically cheaper than alternate methods for accident reconstruction. And, by helping reduce the amount of time in which secondary accidents might happen, they save cities money by reducing the total amount of accidents with which they have to deal.
- Safer roads. Secondary accidents are common at crash scenes, and the longer it takes to clean up a crash, the bigger the window for these accidents. By speeding the clean-up process, LiDAR drones can help keep roads safer.
Another industry that stands to greatly benefit from the hyper-accurate maps provided by drones with LiDAR is agriculture.
The use of drones and other robotics technologies to improve farming is typically referred to as precision agriculture—and LiDAR data is a key element in this new movement.
BENEFITS OF LIDAR DRONES FOR AGRICULTURE
- Crop production. Information provided via LiDAR drones can be used to make a number of maps that can inform agricultural decisions. These include maps that show high, medium, and low crop production areas, maps that inform where and when to use fertilizer (an expensive, valuable and often overused resource), and even maps that show areas of a farm that receive the most sunlight.
- Irrigation. On properties like rice farms, which require intricate and precise levees to be built for proper irrigation, LiDAR-generated maps can be indispensable. Not only can the LiDAR enabled drones provide models with inch-wide accuracy, but they can do so even if the fields are flooded—previously, farmers would have to wait until the ground dried up to drive trucks full of equipment through the fields.
- Livestock management. Keeping track of wandering or grazing livestock in a manner that is impossible to do at ground level, as well as keeping them safe from predators—even at night, when monitoring for such threats becomes much more difficult and dangerous.
- Mapping. In a short period of time, a drone with a LiDAR payload can scan and map out the full acreage of a farm to a high degree of accuracy.
- Savings. Reducing the cost and time associated with irrigation, crop production, and livestock management by quickly providing precise data to inform all of these activities.
3D map of an inlet created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
The information provided by LiDAR sensor drones can be incredibly effective in helping governments and other institutions maintain and conserve their natural resources.
In fact, a number of U.S. states have already begun using aerial LiDAR scanners to better understand the assets within their own borders. This intensive, accurate data collection allows for better documentation, which, in turn, can lead to better protection of our natural resources.
Other states, like Iowa, have entire databases filled with information collected from LiDAR sensors. The state’s Geographic Information System (GIS) is full of data collected from LiDAR systems under the issue of The Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
LiDAR data, including derivatives like contour maps, digital elevation models, hill shade projections, and others, are assisting with a wide range of natural resource conservation applications.
University of Minnesota Water Resource Center
BENEFITS OF LIDAR DRONES FOR CONSERVATION
- Forest conservation. Mapping forests to conserve and protect them.
- Water conservation. LiDAR drones can map out everything from flood plains to water basins, and with accurate, high fidelity maps of these areas, state and local governments can both prepare for natural disasters and more accurately predict their yearly resource use.
- Sand dune conservation. Mapping sand dunes to track their spread and incursion on bordering ecosystems, and to protect them.
The uses cases for LiDAR drones in inspection and other infrastructure fields are obvious.
From surveying a construction site, to measuring the amount of vegetation growing around a power line, drones with a LiDAR payload can greatly reduce both the time and cost of a manual survey or inspection.
Right now, drones with LiDAR sensors are being used to inspect and perform maintenance on rails, pipelines, turbines and more.
BENEFITS OF LIDAR DRONES FOR INSPECTIONS
- Historical record. Get a precise, 3D snapshots of the entirety of an asset, which can be compared to past and future conditions with the asset.
- Planning. Getting a detailed 3D rendering of an asset or space can help plan future work and make sure no details are missed.
- Safety. Avoid the need to manually enter dangerous confined spaces or work at height by using drone data instead of collecting data in person.
- Savings. By speeding up inspections and reducing downtimes, 3D maps made with aerial LiDAR data can lead to huge savings for industrial inspections.