10 Reasons Why LiDAR Is Popular

10 Reasons Why LiDAR Is Popular
September 18, 2007 Walter Ertz

10. Light Is The Ruler

LiDAR technology is based on a laser emitting light pulses. These pulses travel away until they are reflected back to the sensor by an object or the earth’s surface. Very accurate distances to objects are calculated based on the speed of light. Pulses are reflected off nearly any feature like vegetation, buildings, power lines, or the earth’s surface.

9. From The Sky Or Ground

LiDAR technology and equipment is versatile and, depending on the project needs, can acquire data in different ways. The LiDAR sensor may be operated in airborne platforms like planes and helicopters or tripod mounted on the ground.

8. Precise Measurement

LiDAR collects three-dimensional information of the earth’s surface and provides a fast and accurate method of directly measuring height, elevation of terrain, or other features. Because the LiDAR unit is used with Airborne Global Positioning Systems (ABGPS) and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), accurate geographic coordinates (latitude, longitude, elevation) of reflected pulses can be determined. Therefore, elevation data can be determined to within 15cm (6″) with relative accuracy between measurements of 3-4 cm to within millimeters.

7. Safe To Use & Non-Intrusive

LiDAR is eye-safe and can be used in areas inhabited by people. Further, because the distance to objects is measured remotely, no right-of-entry is required from property owners. Additionally, LiDAR operators can stay out of dangerous work zones to not interfere with mining, transportation, or other operations occurring in the project area.

6. Any Time Of Year

Unlike other remote sensing techniques, it is not necessary to have “leaf-off” conditions. Additionally, unlike aerial cameras requiring cloudless conditions, LiDAR sensors can operate in the dark, under clouds, or in other conditions. Continuous acquisition is possible. This is a chief advantage of using LiDAR instead of other remote sensing tools.

5. Quick Turn Around

Because it is easy to deploy, project lead-time is reduced. Processing is fast because all data consists of accurate x, y, z coordinates. There is no need for aero-triangulation, ortho-rectification, or mosaicing. All of these advantages accelerate the production schedule.

4. Widely Used In Many Industries

A cross-section of industries are now using LiDAR, with new markets being added as the technology becomes more familiar. Some examples include transportation route planning, transportation survey, engineering and design, environmental assessments, natural resource management, urban planning, forest management, urban modeling, disaster response and damage assessment, hydrology/floodplain mapping, and telecommunications.

3. Flexible Deliverables

Because LiDAR data is digital, many deliverables are available. Typically, clients ask for the data to be visualized to produce digital elevation models of the earth. However, simple ASCII flies with x, y, z coordinates representing vegetation and/or “bare-earth” returns are commonly provided. With this processed data, contours can be quickly and easily produced. Even artificial color imagery can even be derived from LiDAR using “intensity” values from each pulse.

2. Complements Other Photogrammetric & Survey Technologies

Sophisticated and accurate three-dimensional models are made when LiDAR is combined with aerial imagery. Whole cities are quickly and realistically modeled. Users can then interact with these models and view features from any position and from any perspective using three-dimensional fly-throughs.

1. Reasonable Costs

LiDAR is cost effective alternative to conventional mapping technologies. Areas larger than a few hundred acres are mapped more efficiently using LiDAR.


Over 40 Years Of Geospatial Expertise

Aerial Services’ advanced Light-imaging Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) services can be dispatched to make sense of your customized LiDAR project. LiDAR technology offers acquisition of digital elevation data for large-scale mapping projects.

Their experienced team of LiDAR professionals work alongside the years of aerial photography, photogrammetric, and geospatial experience already at Aerial Services which allow the photogrammetrists to combined LiDAR with traditional photogrammetric solutions. When you supplement traditional mapping with LiDAR data you can get more out of your investment.

Planning on using the Iowa DNR’s public LiDAR data? Learn how ASI can help.