Aerial LiDAR surveys aren’t new technology – but now U.S. – based Harris Aerial has demonstrated a new and ground-breaking way of performing them.
LiDAR surveys provide critically accurate survey data, allowing for the creation of precise 3D models. LiDAR attached to a helicopter or other manned aircraft have been used for over 50 years in applications like natural hazard assessment for lava flows or tsunamis, forestry, agriculture, river and watershed surveys, and climate research.
Surveys performed by manned aircraft, however, are prohibitively expensive for most industries. Additionally, says a Harris Aerial press release, a manned aircraft survey “provides just one shot for the laser as the plane flies past the target,” making it more challenging to get good data. Surveys performed by drone are far less expensive and easier to implement, but also have their limitations. The short flight time can make a drone solution impractical for larger missions.
That’s why Harris Aerial, one of the world leaders in developing new drone technology, has partnered with LiDAR USA and Skytec to demonstrate the capabilities of LiDAR sensors on its Carrier H4 Hybrid Drones. Harris develops heavy lifting drones: carriers used for industrial applications like crop spraying, utility inspections, military and security applications, and others. By combining LiDAR sensors with the high endurance of the Carrier H4 Hybrid customers get the best of both worlds.
“Traditional LiDAR surveys are extremely pricey – a one-day survey can range more than six figures,” says Ben Harris, president of Harris Aerial. “By using our hybrid drones, we are able to replace the cost of jet fuel and a plane, yet still spend enough time in the air to complete the survey.”
The Carrier H4 Hybrid drone can fly uninterrupted carrying LiDAR equipment for two and a half hours. In addition to the extended flight, the Carrier H4 Hybrid has the largest capacity for carrying payload on the market.
“Both of these elements are essential to completing LiDAR surveys, as the drone must remain in the air for an extended period of time to capture the image,” Harris says. “This is just another of the very practical uses for the hybrid drone market, which is the future of commercial applications of drones.”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.