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Aerial LiDAR vs. Terrestrial LiDAR

LiDAR technology is helping countless industries create a better future for everyone. While terrestrial LiDAR is suitable for many projects, some use cases may benefit from aerial LiDAR technology. The construction industry, for example, is becoming increasingly reliant on drones equipped with LiDAR sensors to take measurements in places that are otherwise difficult to access.

Terrestrial LiDAR

Terrestrial LiDAR surveying uses landbound LiDAR sensors attached to cars, tripods, and more. Terrestrial LiDAR sensors are essential for civil engineering structures that have to be continuously monitored — these sensors are also ideal for analyzing crop yields and seed dispersion in agricultural applications. 

Terrestrial LiDAR tends to be more accurate than other 3-D scan technologies. Still, terrestrial LiDAR technologies are occasionally time-consuming and may not work for difficult-to-reach project sites.

Aerial LiDAR

Aerial LiDAR surveying is an effective way to obtain LiDAR data in areas that may be difficult to reach. LiDAR sensors attached to drones or airplanes can collect data regardless of the terrain. For example, manned aerial LiDAR vehicles can penetrate dense foliage to extract features from the ground, making them ideal for collecting data in large forested areas.

Unmanned drones are a cost-effective way to obtain data compared to terrestrial LiDAR or LiDAR airplanes. Unmanned LiDAR drones are perfect for surveying relatively small project areas such as construction and mining sites. Due to its widespread adoption, LiDAR drone prices are expected to fall over the coming years, making it even more cost-effective.

Should You Use Terrestrial or Aerial LiDAR?

Both terrestrial and aerial LiDAR technology are excellent for environmental studies, topographical mapping, urban infrastructure projects, and more. When choosing between aerial and terrestrial LiDAR, it’s essential to consider the size of the project site and how difficult it may be to navigate. If your project requires continuous monitoring, terrestrial LiDAR is likely the best solution. Alternatively, if you’re surveying a potentially hazardous or complex project site, aerial LiDAR is likely ideal.

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