Inside Unmanned Systems

JUN-JUL 2017

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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31 unmanned systems inside April/May 2017 June/July 2017 "It's not that I'm not a LiDAR fan. It's great. I'm just not sure if it's ready for small UAS," Poss stated early on. But he started the discussion with an open mind and, by the end of the conversation, the panelists and the webinar polls helped bring him on board. The first audience poll question asked whether you can really use LiDAR in small UAS and 54 percent of the respondents answered 'Yes,' but that there are currently numerous problems in application. Poss, the CEO of ISR Ideas, an intelligence, UAS and cyber warfare consulting firm, described the many benefits of LiDAR. Among them, he said, is LiDAR's ability to solve potential issues involv- ing digital terrain elevations (and digital elevation models) that exist with more traditional methods. LiDAR also delivers much more accuracy for the Z coordinate and the technology makes it much easier to process terrain models. Drawbacks, Poss said, include the tremendous stor- age requirements needed for the data and concerns about just how well LiDAR works with smaller air- craft. He noted that it works well on manned aircraft, but he had doubts about how realistic it is for FAA Part 107 drones—at least at the start of the webinar. "Can it gather enough data if f lown below 400 feet at less than 100 mph within the visual line of sight of its remote pilot?" Poss asked. "I'm just not sure you can fit a useful LiDAR in a small UAV. But I could be wrong and I'll be the first one to admit it." Proving the Point Graham provided an overview on how LiDAR works, how accurate it is and how the resulting images are so "very realistic." He then described some of the solutions available from Riegl—includ- ing the use of very precise Position and Orientation Systems from Applanix—and illustrated how these systems combine data from GNSS and Inertial Measurement Units (IMU) to map the terrain at a very high level of accuracy. Modern LiDARs can detect multiple returns (echoes) and waveforms— that's "invaluable for classification algorithms, for what it is we are seeing in object space; trees versus buildings and so forth." WHAT ATTENDEES WANTED TO KNOW Participants had the chance to ask questions during the webinar. Here are a few of those questions: • Using electro-optical measuring is not really good with horizontal obstructions like power lines or vertical obstructions like cell phone towers. Can you explain the advantages that LiDAR has in detecting very small objects like power lines? • Give us an idea of the costs involved. If I wanted to go out and start my own LiDAR survey company with a small UAS, am I going to spend $10,000, $2 million, or somewhere in between? • Explain the impact of atmosphere on LiDAR. Is it true a lot of rain or fog or other atmospheric conditions can really adversely effect things? • How possible is it to process this in real time? Once you've taken a LiDAR pass is it automatically available in the ground station within seconds or does it take hours? • What do you see as the big markets for UAS-based LiDAR? • Can you share more details about cost-effectiveness compared to other methods? What other aspects need to be taken into account, such as the size of data, computer systems to process, third party software, and network systems to house and store data? TO WATCH THE FULL WEBINAR, GO TO https://attendee. THE PANELISTS James Van Rens, CEO of Riegl USA Lewis Graham, President and Chief Technical Officer of GeoCue Group James Poss, Maj Gen (ret), USAF CEO, ISR Ideas Pierre Chaponniere, application engineer at YellowScan (France)

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