Small scale LiDAR and Agriculture remote sensing


I work for a soil conservation district in Michigan.  We could use a way to make LiDAR maps for conservation planning software.  It's pretty expensive to get those shoots done, and we would end up with a ton of data we don't need.  Anybody have thoughts on who might have small UAV based LiDAR systems in the pipe, either for sale or available to do some shooting for us?  I am also very interested in the topic of remote senseing, especially near IR for crop scouting and tile line location.  Small, cheep and easy to use would be best of course ;<)  Your thoughts are welcome.

Mark Ludwig

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  • Hi Mark,

    As others mentioned, be sure to consider the currently overly restrictive regulatory environment.

    That aside, the most affordable airborne laser scanning LiDAR systems - none of which are cheap - are the Hokuyo, Velodyne and YellowScan systems. Of these, only the YellowScan is designed for mapping vegetation. For cheap IR imagery (e.g., NDVI), why not modify a RaspiCam. Much better performance can be had at a higher price, as uncalibrated spectral bands with poor spectral resolution and bleeding may not be very useful.

    Adam Erickson
    Co-founder, Luft Aerospace
    Ph.D. Candidate
    Integrated Remote Sensing Studio
    and UBC Unmanned Aircraft Systems
    University of British Columbia
  • Hey Mark,

    I know probably this is out of date, but Phoenix A.S. (CA based) just launched the smallest LIDAR in the market, intended for the task you are asking for. It can also be mounted at the top of roof of a truck or so. The cost is about USD 8.000/u. I do not know if it does include any software or not.



  • Hi All,

    I have started a new company aimed at bringing small UAV based LIDAR to market.

    We have gone through initial flight tests and are working to streamline the process as well as develop a purpose built aircraft for LIDAR scanning and mapping.

    Keep an eye on us for our progress.


    • Hi Andy

      What is the status of this very important effort?


    • Peter,

      Thanks for your interest in our project !

      We are working hard to get a complete system airborne very soon.

      Our new octo has been designed, manufactured and assembled.

      Maiden flight proved it to be a fantastic platform.

      Now pushing the aircraft and testing different conditions as well as perfecting our sensor payload.

      I will come back and get some video up very soon !

  • Are there instances where you can use Photogrammetry instead of LiDAR?

    It is more cost effective and easier to implement, I agree with your thoughts on a viable LiDAR platform however

    Please view the following video I made on Photogrammetry, for a bit of an overview.


    Robotics Experts
  • 3692614106?profile=originalHi Mark,

    I plan to sell this whole system. Its a Velodyne LiDar HDL32E on board a gasoline powered autonomous helicopter. This might interest you. Email :

  • Hi Mark. If you are still looking for a UAV based LIDAR, I am selling my unused and tested HDL32E by Velodyne at a low price. I found that I will just invest more on UAVs rather than processing lidar images. The price of a brand new one is 30K USD. Email me at for more info. Attached pics of my UAV heli setup.

    LIDAR flight.jpg

    lidar payload.JPG

  • Hi Mark

    I am soil conservationist in Australia so I understand exactly what you are after.  The challenge apart from the legal ones outlined are the data ones. LIDAR is very data hungry with small areas producing several hundred or even thousands of MB of data.  The other challenge is getting a suitable airframe / battery combination to capture the data you're after.  Here's a link that might help : LIDAR Presi


    In terms of the near IR crop assessment I am currently looking at this. I fly a H-Frame quad with a GoPro mounted on it. I am looking at filtering out the visible light and post processing the resulting IR.  I have also toyed with a GoPro stereo mount and use one camera for IR and the other for visible.  Again I would need to post process into a false colour image for vegetation index work.


    hope this hleps


  • Hi Mark,

    You can have a look to this system, it may fit you needs:

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