I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts/opinions/technical knowledge concerning terrain-mapping from a drone. I'm curious about it, but it seems like the only thing lidar is being used for is aerial navigation like this MIT is doing here: http://youtu.be/5qQJwLJ857s 

The closest thing I could find to what I'm thinking is this 3D mapping demo from the UK: 

I've obviously seen the Electro-optic lidar system and the Hokuyo photo sensors, but would either be enough to terrain-map with accuracy of a couple inches from 20-30 meters up? 

Views: 27640

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hi Paulino. What are the specs of the heli that you are using to carry the LiDAR, and what kind of flight times do you get?

Please email me on this inquiry at



Hello LiDAR interested people, 

This is probably going to to be my first reply on DIY drones so here I go (New member as of today), I started a sensor business around one year ago to develop systems for mapping, as a heli pilot and working in a laser scanning company for many years I first went to design a low cost LiDAR system for small Helicopters like Robinson R22, H300 type manned aircraft (2 seater aircraft) reason, operating cost low and you can trailer the R22 around with your Pick up truck. Having experience and contacts in mobile mapping we were gauging a system under 150K USD. 

However I went a step further (Dumped the manned LiDAR) and went for the ultimate portable, low cost LiDAR system  to go on to small UAV's under the 20kg wieght catogory. 

anyway, enough talk, Our system is still under development however we will be gaining the first point cloud data in May which is exciting so if anyone is interested in some draft specs and pictures, please email me for further information. 

sabre-uav.com (please excuse the web site! still under construction at this time) 

Best regards Stephen

Since this thread was started a few years ago, much cheaper equipment has become available.  For example, Garmin now offer a LIDAR rangefinder for about $150:


AND a tiny GPS unit for about £200:


Very cheap LIDAR on a chip is promised, but it's about two years away.

HOWEVER, my particular interest is producing contour maps.  The rangefinder knows its distance from the ground to within about 5cm, but the GPS unit only knows where it is to within about 15m, or maybe 3m if you are in the USA (which I am not) and can use the more accurate WAAS.  Either way, that's not accurate enough.  To make an accurate measurement of the distance to ground useful for a contour map, you need to know your position, height above sea level and beam orientation with equal accuracy.

Does anybody know of any technology that will allow you to measure all that with sufficient accuracy to do detailed mapping?  For example, using markers of some kind on the ground.


There are a handful of LiDAR mapping drones out there right now. I don't have any first-hand experience with them, though.  In my opinion, they're currently still cost-prohibitive and require a little more expertise than the simple photogrammetry drones.  The imaging mapping drones only recently got over the "hump" where they're easy enough to operate for wide adoption.  We are (again, in my opinion) right at the cusp of the same event for LiDAR drones.  

From what I've seen, all of them currently require a base station or VRS.  Here's a common one I've seen around-


I also saw these guys at interdrone - https://www.lidarusa.com/scanlook-longrange.html 


Hi Lidar followers,

It has been a while since my first post on the forum (November 13, 2012).

During that time we have been developing our prototype, starting selling the first units and now we are supporting our professional customer world wide in their every-day operation.

I have been told on this forum that this kind of system is too expensive, however our customers understand its value. It help them to collect highly accurate data in a few minutes for some projects that would have taken days with traditional methods (mainly in the topography field).

Please check this out: http://www.yellowscan.fr and feel free to contact us for more information.

Reply to Discussion


© 2020   Created by Chris Anderson.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service