How LiDAR is Revolutionizing Mapping and Geospatial Data

Whether you’re documenting a road accident scene at night, designing rice field irrigation systems or surveying archeological sites under dense forest canopies, advances in 3D mapping and geospatial data capturing are making these once time-consuming tasks, quicker and more efficient than ever before.

LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a remote sensing technology that uses rapid laser pulses to map out the surface of the earth. LiDAR is useful when used to create high resolution digital surfaces, terrain and elevation models used for various business applications. In the past, companies would need to use a separate personalized system for each application. Nowadays, companies can use a LiDAR system mounted onto a UAV as an all-in-one 3D mapping device. A ScanLook A-series LiDAR system mounted to a DJI Matrice 600 airframe is an affordable, versatile and accurate UAV-based 3D surveying solution.

An Matrice 600 airframe equipped with a ScanLook A-series LiDAR system

Examples of LiDAR and Drones in action:

Terrain Modeling

When strategizing on how best to prepare moving dirt for your business, it is crucial to know quantity down to the square yard. Dirt movers are paid by the yard and costs will add up if calculations are inaccurate. LiDAR offers significant savings over ground survey methods. By using a method of detecting distant objects such as leaves, shrubs, trees and even grass, LiDAR can determine their position, velocity and other characteristics by analyzing pulsed laser light reflected from an object’s surface. This gives a 3D model of topographic terrain contours that ground operators can work from. Using a Matrice 600 with ScanLock, it is easy to scan upwards of 10 acres per minute, and with 20-minute-plus flight times, sizable jobs can be completed in very little time.

Aerial LiDAR unit was used to map a wooded lot and provide a bare earth model of the surrounding field

Accident Scenes

LiDAR is an active system that uses ultraviolet, near infrared light to image objects requiring no external light for effective mapping. For example, when monitoring an interstate pileup at night, a Matrice 600 with ScanLook can easily be deployed, making a single pass over the site.

As a UAV-based solution, accurate information with visible details will be returned instantaneously, which can then be admitted as evidence in court. On the ground, wreckers and sanitation crews can begin the process of cleaning up quickly, saving thousands if not millions of dollars by freeing up commuters and spending less on accident personnel.

LiDAR can be used to collect accurate maps at night

Agriculture & Landscaping

On large scale farms, landscape 3D mapping has become crucial to implementing effective irrigation systems. For example, on large rice plantations farmers need to build levees, which require accurate knowledge of the terrain for a system of levees to work. A Matrice 600 with ScanLock would be a fast and affordable UAV-based solution. Collecting data as wide as 600 feet in a single pass allows farmers or consultants to progress through a large field quickly. Previous methods proved cumbersome and would involve waiting for the fields to dry up enough, so that trucks could maneuver the terrain.

Easily construct accurate terrain maps to make informed landscaping decisions


Where traditional surveying methods for large historical sites used to take years to complete, with new LiDAR technology, entire cities can be mapped in 3D and in a matter of minutes. With UAV-based solutions such as ScanLock mounted to a Matrice 600, previously considered ‘lost sites’ are being rediscovered every day.

Discover more potentials of LiDAR and drones at DJI’s annual commercial drone conference AirWorks 2019 

Where to learn more:

•     Contact DJI today to explore the benefits of drones for mapping

•     Learn more about the Matrice Series drone platforms

•     Subscribe to DJI Enterprise’s newsletter to stay tuned with the latest commercial drone news!


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