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LiDAR Scanning Applications

Tyler Brown
10+ posts Member

My company is looking into the benefits of LiDAR technology for surveying applications. I am curious how many of you are using LiDAR scanners (stationary, mobile, aerial)? Where have these LiDAR applications boosted productivity the most? 

Topic starter Posted : December 4, 2020 10:39 am
1,000+ posts Member

I haven't scanned anything for work yet but I've done some topos manually that a scanner could have tore through in a fraction of the time.

Posted : December 4, 2020 12:18 pm
1,000+ posts Supporter

I use all the above for many applications on a daily basis. It is great. But I will be honest with you on all accounts. It takes a lot of money to play. A lot on money to train and make a ton of mistakes. A lot of time to QA/QC and testing datasets. Better be ready to spend months on overhead. As I tell many folks all the time, LiDAR is not a way to pay to increase productivity if you are not willing to put in the time. 

I have been travelling all over the nation for the last 5 weeks attending training for UAS LiDAR. You put a 250k sensor on a 100k UAS and fly over power line, substations, solar farms, etc. you better make damn sure you know what your doing.

FWIW, terrestrial LiDAR is not the same as anything that moves and I don't even consider them in the same bag of tricks.

Posted : December 4, 2020 3:12 pm
Jaccen, BushAxe, ncsudirtman and 1 people liked

200+ posts Member

Have used Lidar for work. Both Terrestrial and Mobile lidar on vehicles. You will really save alot of time in the field but the what you save in the field will be spent in office processing the data. You cannot assume like before where my data is ready to go after registration. You got to clean the data and ensure registration are good. I use Lidar where the environment is time sensitive and I cannot afford to go back because i forgot to pick up one or two features. 

Posted : December 4, 2020 4:53 pm
1,000+ posts Member

Agree with @stlsurveyor, there's a large upfront investment in mobile scanning tech. We have a mobile scanning/UAS group and it can be a struggle to get employees trained up, and new tech integrated and returning on that investment. We also have a team of techs that does almost nothing but modelling from our scans.

Terrestrial scanning is a lot easier to get into, especially since processing software has started to integrate scanning with traditional workflows and the cost of terrestrial HDS has come down. Both Leica Infinity and Trimble Business Center allow you to bring scan data into your projects alongside traditional survey data, and extract usable information. Registration is nowhere near as difficult as it used to be.

The trick is to have field staff that understand how and when to use it, plus a team of office staff that can do the extraction. I like scanning for dense urban topos, where it is easy to miss something while walking around the site but easier to pull it out of the full scan you did from two or three of the four corners of that busy intersection.

Also, I'm probably in the minority here, but I love scanning total stations. They are excellent at bridging that gap between intense modelling projects and basic topographic surveys. Good for specialized work too. We do a decent amount of work for electrical utilities that require us to document crossbar heights, attachment points, top of pole height, etc. Before scanning stations, the crews had to keep excruciatingly detailed notes and spend 20-30 minutes per pole making sure they hit every single possible data point with a reflectorless shot. Which then had to be cross-referenced by office staff, with mediocre cell phone images to go along with it if we were lucky.

Now, in the data collector, they look through the total station scope camera, draw a box around the top of the pole, keeping all the attachment points in that window, and then tell it to do a medium to high density scan plus a high-resolution photograph. The station does its thing in a few minutes, and all the crew has to do is note which pole it is. I import data to processing software, run adjustments on the control, colorize the scans, and start picking points. Time savings are anywhere from 20-40%. We hand over the scan data in Civil 3D deliverables (since C3D can visualize point clouds) along with all the extracted info.

Posted : December 4, 2020 5:16 pm
Jaccen, party chef, Tyler Brown and 3 people liked
1,000+ posts Supporter

All above is good info. Supported large scale fixed wing  LiDAR and ORTHOPhoto.

Love the SX10.  for its price, is nearly I touchable for cost to benefit IMHO.



Posted : December 4, 2020 7:34 pm

1,000+ posts Member

@stlsurveyor I could not agree more.  Beware the salesmen who tell you it is turnkey.

Posted : March 20, 2021 6:34 pm
Steven Metelski
200+ posts Member

We are a decent size civil survey firm with multiple 100+ acre jobs going at once. However, we sub out our aerial photo and lidar work. We do not have the personnel to handle the extra work load nor enough workflow to justify a full time staff for flying and postprocessing the data.

Our proposals for topography include the aerial and running baselines to check the surface.

Posted : March 21, 2021 7:01 am
Jaccen and BushAxe liked