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evaluating pavement

How Is LiDAR Technology Used in Urban Planning Projects?

Whether you live in a densely populated city or a smaller suburban area, there’s no doubt that the importance of transportation planning and evaluating pavement is vital to making sure residents can get from place to place. But how does a civil engineering firm plan for these kinds of things?

The answer is LiDAR technology.

What is LiDAR technology?

LiDAR technology is a relatively new kind of technology. The acronym stands for Light Detection and Ranging, which is a type of active remote sensing. It has been a huge asset in gathering digital surface models of Earth, especially with the combination of digital orthophotos. Together, these two technologies have given civil engineers the ability to gather clean, extremely detailed 3D landscape images.

How does LiDAR technology serve urban planning projects?

As mentioned earlier, LiDAR surveying technology and digital orthophotos allow civil engineers to create detailed 3D images of the surface of Earth. This technology has also been applied in urban settings. Highly detailed 3D models of cities are useful in a number of applications, including:

  • Military operations
  • Disaster management and recovery
  • City mapping
  • Simulating new building construction
  • Updating map data
  • Detecting urban environment changes

The current LiDAR technology is most frequently utilized by attaching the surveying device to planes flying over the areas that need to be surveyed. While this method of surveying has been able to provide accurate information, it often isn’t close enough to ground level for tasks like evaluating pavement on an extremely detailed level. However, that could change with the advent of self-driving cars. Considering that almost every self-driving vehicle uses liDAR technology to detect the environment around it, it’s possible this technology could be used for future road evaluation and transportation planning.

More than half of the roads in the U.S. are at 70% capacity, and some are struggling at over 95% capacity. Detailed LiDAR information from self-driving vehicles could help change the transportation planning game entirely. Not only that, but it could help improve the way future cities and buildings are planned and constructed.

Before LiDAR technology, much of the current urban data wasn’t accurate enough for efficient urban planning. Now, we can examine and identify issues in current urban areas and make accurate changes to build cities up for the future.

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