UAV-LiDAR pilots

Application of LiDAR for the acquisition of high resolution and accurate height data is a common technique in combination with airplanes. Although airplanes are very practical for the collection of large scale data sets, they are less suitable for surveys of small areas. Smaller areas require flexible platforms with limited mobilisation costs and that is why Shore started using UAV’s already in 2012. Back then the pay load of UAV’s was restricted to the weight of a digital camera and therefore Shore began with the use of the photogrammetry technique.

Compared to conventional GPS-point and transect measurements the introduction of photogrammetry induced a large increase in the spatial detail of strongly varying (dune) areas that could be captured during a survey. However, the technique proved to be less suitable for the determination of the ground surface under vegetation and in areas with limited contrast. These limitations are typical examples of situations where LiDAR performs well and therefore Shore started pursuing LiDAR in combination with UAV’s.

By the end of 2015 miniaturization of LiDAR-sensors together with a strong development in UAV’s and their pay-load, made it possible to start using LiDAR in combination with UAV’s. To introduce this combination to the (Dutch) hydraulic/coastal engineering market, Shore started a pilot project together with three partners to investigate the possibilities and added value of this new combination to the professional practice of the partnering organisations.

To maximise the output of the pilot project, each partner brought in a specific type of area to investigate and the results are shared between the participating organisations. Shore coordinated the pilot study, performed the tests and took care of the analysis and report writing. This approach allowed interested parties to explore the added value of new technology to their professional practice in an easy and efficient manner and moreover led to the introduction of the UAV-LiDAR to the Dutch market.

The results of the pilots showed that UAV-LiDAR:

  • Is a very suitable technique for surveying dune areas with a lot of vegetation. In contrast to photogrammetry, LiDAR is capable of collecting accurate surface levels under vegetation. This directly increases the accuracy of volume calculations.
  • Is more suitable on grass cover dikes
  • Provides much more (multi functional) information

Project details:

Client: Hoogheemraadschap Hollands Noorderkwartier, Hoogheemraadschap Stichtse Rijlanden, Rijkswaterstaat
Service: Pilots and innovation joint pilot
Survey solutions: UAV-LiDAR
Deliverables: Report providing answers to predefined research questions