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Airborne versus Terrestrial: which one is the right LiDAR for your needs?

LiDAR can be divided into two main categories, the airborne type, and the terrestrial type. They each have their own functionalities for different kinds of needs. Discover their uses and characteristics.

Airborne LiDAR uses and characteristics

The airborne LiDAR is a laser scanning system that is attached to a drone, airplane, or helicopter. Compared to terrestrial LiDAR, it saves time and budget since it can cover more areas in a shorter period of time. Airborne LiDAR makes it easier to scan large areas, without limitation of time since it keeps collecting data as long as the plane or device is running. Another reason to use this type is that it doesn’t have to deal with or avoid obstacles on the ground such as trees, power lines, etc.

Types of airborne LiDAR

There are two types of airborne LiDAR. Although they both work in the same way, each has its own functionalities. Topographic Lidar usually maps the land using near-infrared light and is mainly used for urban planning projects. Bathymetric LiDAR uses a water-penetrating laser and infrared light to measure seafloor and riverbed elevations. It can be used to gather information on both land and sea even though it is more used on coastal projects.

Terrestrial Lidar uses and characteristics

Terrestrial LiDAR is set to a stationary device or a tripod on the ground. It is used to develop point clouds for mining, archaeology, etc. This system does not scan downs, instead, it often scans in several directions with the use of mirrors, which allows the system to capture data all around. Terrestrial LiDAR is used in areas that airborne LiDAR can’t reach. It can work with an airborne system to have a more detailed look at a specific object.

Types of terrestrial LiDAR

Mobile LiDAR systems are attached to moving vehicles and are a good option for scanning roads and railroads. Mobile LiDAR is often used for 3D mapping because it collects a denser database of points, which creates more detailed 3D images and maps. Static LiDAR, as the name suggests, is the only one that isn’t moving. It is attached to a non-moving tripod but can be moved to a different location, and it is used to scan or focus on a specific area. Static LiDAR is very popular and used by engineers, archeologists, and mining projects.

As you can see, each of these LiDAR types plays a role in different scenarios. Deciding which one to use is based on the demands of a project. Contact us to learn more and choose the right LiDAR for your needs.

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