Considerations for Planning a Mobile Lidar Scanning Project

Are you considering a mobile lidar project? Continental Mapping can help you conceptually plan and execute a project.

Mobile lidar scanning is an evolution of lidar acquisition, filling the void created from aerial lidar collection and terrestrial static scanning methods. Mobile lidar utilizes the ground level perspective of terrestrial scanners with mobile capabilities used by aerial lidar. Mobile lidar can better serve demanding transportation design and engineering projects, as well as provide a solution to collecting lidar data when aerial methods aren’t possible or don’t meet the accuracy standards. It also offers faster acquisition and less personnel risk.

Below are some key questions to think about when considering mobile lidar.

How dense of a point dataset do you need?

Point density is determined by application such as a highly accurate roadbed model or extracting features in an urban area. Density comes at a cost, sometimes requiring multiple passes or narrower field of view with slower collection.

What type of features are you interested in?

If you are interested in overhead structures like utility lines, then focus on systems with a 360 degree field of view. If you are interested in collecting ground features like ditches or curbs, then a directed configuration offers better collection.

How important is the system’s image data to you and your project?

There are numerous systems on the market and Continental Mapping has access to almost all of them. We utilize the appropriate sensor for the job. Some have two cameras, others have six, while others have 360 degree panoramas. Camera units time-stamp their imagery so it can be easily associated with the lidar.

How quickly do you need the data? Quick turnaround is feasible but timeline depends mostly upon the project workplan (e.g. acquisition at night, permissible weather conditions, project areas-of-interest, GPS coverage/IMU usage, plan for recapturing data voids and end deliveries).

How do you get features from a point cloud? Typical features extracted include buildings, power lines, transportation features, and contours. Map features are collected using a combination of manual and automated methods to extract features from the point cloud.

Mobile lidar is a staple data collection tool in the geospatial data development industry. Many of our clients have worked with lidar data directly or finished products that came from processed lidar data. Applications range widely across numerous industries from 3D modeling, contour mapping, change detection, and volumetric studies, all of which Continental Mapping has experience providing for our clients. The methods of collecting lidar data continue to evolve to address higher accuracy requirements and multiple collection methods.

By mounting a mobile lidar sensor to the top of a vehicle, lidar data can be acquired along roads and railroads at fast speeds during the day or night. This data is tied to GPS control, allowing lidar specialists to then create an accurate 3D model of the area, displaying data that is usually not visible from aerial derived lidar data such as undersides of bridges or the sides of overpasses and ditches. Mobile lidar is also valuable for high accuracy urban mapping, allowing detailed collection of buildings, alleys, power lines, and other features. As the geospatial industry continues to evolve, Continental Mapping is eager to explore how mobile lidar collection methods can save our clients time and money in the planning and execution of future projects.