October 20, 2021

3 Aerial LiDAR Advancements Benefit Land Development

Drone, LiDAR, Aerial Mapping, sUAS, UAS Drone, LiDAR, Aerial Mapping, sUAS, UAS

Drones have been around for some time and using them for real estate or mapping and construction isn’t anything new. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Final Rule on Remote ID updated regulations help to make the airspace safer and more understandable for the public, which was a big win for the drone industry. In addition to regulatory updates, drone technology has significantly progressed in the last five years, impacting its usage.

Terrestrial 3D scanning for data acquisition on smaller, suburban/urban sites has gained momentum over the years. This method uses robots on the ground to develop 3D data sets for design and construction. While this method is still reliable, aerial LiDAR has proven successful in gathering data over large, complex areas, thus, keeping workers out of high-risk environments during data acquisition. In addition to improved safety measures, advanced technologies, sensor size, and battery life have enhanced drone speed and accessibility, and have created a more efficient design and development process on residential and commercial projects.

1. 5G and Artificial Intelligence
Due to technological advancements, present-day drones are more reliable. As we integrate technologies like 5G and artificial intelligence (AI), pilots can leverage the greater connectivity and fly further distances with confidence.

2. Sensor Size
LiDAR sensors continue to shrink, and large and expensive drones are no longer necessary to carry the load. This size reduction helps open the door for a broader range of usage in engineering and architecture.

3. Battery Life
The battery life of the drone has significantly improved. Longer battery life allows for increased flight time, and therefore, more data collected, providing more efficiencies with data acquisition.

Drone systems are faster and more reliable. Longer battery life and cost-effective sensors allow for longer flights, which significantly increases the speed of the data gathering process. The faster the data is collected, the sooner the engineer, architect, and construction teams have it. Often, these stakeholders can be leveraging the data within 24 to 48 hours of collection using cloud-based mission planning and processing. 

In addition, remote locations are becoming more and more accessible as drone technology advances, providing clients with cost-effective means to capture their assets from aerial collections. As manufacturers further initiatives to customize drone usage, the industry will continue to see new ways to leverage sensors and data acquisition from aerial initiatives.

Westwood’s 30+ sUAS certified pilots apply the latest technologies in aerial LiDAR services on projects throughout the country, delivering highly accurate data in the shortest amount of time. Reach out to learn more.

Brandon Twedt, PE

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