What is light detection and ranging?


There are several different applications for LiDAR systems, such as atmospheric, climate research, bathymetry, and surface terrain.  For this site, we will focus directly on the application of surface terrain modeling. 

In the 1950's a system combining a laser range finder and data collector captured point data from the air.  Over the past 60 years, innovation has been playing a big role in the evolution of the modern day Light Detection And Ranging system.  Faster computers, larger data storage capacity, Inertial Measurement Units and Global Positioning Systems have made LiDAR a much more viable and accurate technology to adopt in the modern day digital terrain modeling industry. 

The LiDAR system is attached to the bottom of an aircraft, the LASER emits a pulse of light towards the ground where it is reflected back and collected by the receiver.  The time it took to transmit the light and receive a reflection gives the system a distance to the aircraft.  Different technologies allow the LASER to be projected at angles, and over 500,000 pulses of light per second sweep across the terrain.  While the LASER is transmitting and the receiver is receiving, GPS receivers and IMU's are constantly recording the position and attitude of the aircraft.  GPS and IMU data is combined with the laser data and corrections are made to the elevation and position of the laser point.



VMA will customize your LiDAR data order to suit you projects specific needs.  We have access to LiDAR data from existing data libraries or we can plan a custom data set to be flown specifically for your project.  Our working relationships between multiple vendors means the right tool is used for the job from manned fixed wing and rotary to Unmanned Aerial Systems, VMA has access to all of them.