Up and Coming Array Based Lidar for UAV Survey

ASC (Advanced Scientific Concepts LLC) use the term “3D Flash LiDAR” to describe their implementation of array-based sensing technology. I have seen ASC technologies at events, but had yet to see them in operation until last week when I visited the booth of BrashTech, one of ASC’s customers. There, the ASC Peregrine was mounted on a UAV alongside a camera for collecting color 3D models in real-time.

BrashTech’s particular implementation enables collecting structural models for inspection of cellphone towers. Until recently, my assumption was that owners of these assets already know the dimensions of the structure—they are constructed of standardized parts—and this means they’d likely want to use drones to photograph the asset and inspect for corrosion, serial numbers, and so on. After talking to BrashTech and ASC, however, I learned that these owners often need to measure antenna angle, and this would be difficult to measure photogrammetrically, without a lidar sensor.

BrashTech's FlashCam

BrashTech's FlashCam

I also learned that when array-based lidar sensors are combined with inertial navigation systems for direct-georeferencing workflows, there is an efficiency improvement to be had. This is because the system needs to reference only one array of data rather than a score of individual points.

When a system like ASC’s Peregrine lists a relative accuracy specification of around 4cm, it may need to be tightened up for survey. However, I’m beginning to see the potential of array-based technology for this kind of application.

Reference: Lidar for UAV Survey