Inside Unmanned Systems

OCT-NOV 2016

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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52 unmanned systems inside   October/November 2016 AIR AND LAND TECHNOLOGY FOCUS: LiDAR they need to cut trees, coordinates from the point cloud tell them exactly where to go. The point cloud can help them determine the best spots to install new lines and how much wire they need. Eck said they've also used LiDAR for environ- mental applications such as forest surveying. "You can't look into the forest with aerial photography. You can't detect wire or make 3D models of wire," Eck said. "Whenever you have objects without a clean surface or if you want to look in between something like trees you need to have a laser scanner. Otherwise you can't get those objects into the 3D world." Eck also deploys other sensors on the UAS, such as spectral and magnetic sensors, he said, and many customers want to combine these sensors to get the data they need. Combining laser scanners with other sensors on a UAS is what Eck describes as state of the art. "What is often done is to combine aerial pho- tography so they don't just have point clouds, they can also colorize the point clouds with real colors from the photos," Eck said. "New technology now combines the laser scanner with spectral scanners in the same f light." HYPACK, an Xylem Brand, developed a solution, the Nexus 800, that combines pho- togrammetry with LiDAR, and Vitad Pradith said it will be available to customers in Octo- ber. UAS platforms should have the ability to carry more sensors, he said, and as solutions continue to get smaller and smaller, he expects more drones to come with integrated multi- sensor platforms. Obstacle Avoidance The most common use for LiDAR in drones is mapping the environment, Singh said, but it also can keep these vehicles safe. Let's say someone is f lying a UAS near a smoke stack. If the operator wants to bring the UAS close to the structure, that's difficult to do without actually bumping into the stack because their depth perception is off, which is something LiDAR can help with. The Riegl UAS Ricopter performs a utility inspection (top). Images taken with the VUX-1 LR from Riegl USA. Photos courtesy of Riegl USA and Merrick & Co.

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