For much of the 20th century, drones were largely used by the military for reconnaissance and combat missions. As these unmanned flying vehicles (UAVs) became more affordable, researchers and filmmakers leveraged the technology to capture aerial footage, eliminating the need to hire helicopters. Now drones have exploded in popularity, and are used to improve workflows in a range of industries including natural gas, energy, mining, construction, transportation, and agriculture. Combining the agility and operability of UAVs with the power of LiDAR sensors enables drones to deliver superior performance in a number of applications. With the recent launch of the DJI Zenmuse L1, industries will benefit from ground breaking UAV-LiDAR technology. The L1 has an integrated LiDAR and RGB Camera which generates incredibly detailed colourized 3D point clouds.


LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) relies on light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure variable distances. LiDAR is particularly useful in surveying operations to perform ‘laser scanning’ and generate a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) in the form of a 3D point cloud file. These results are visible in real-time from DJI's LiveView, which provide immediate insights onsite, so operators are informed to make critical decisions quickly.

You can also verify fieldwork quality by checking point cloud data immediately after each flight. During the post-processing phase, DJI Terra fuses the IMU and GNSS data for point cloud and visible light calculations, in addition to conducting POS data calculations so you can effortlessly generate reconstructed models and accuracy reports. Therefore, DJI has created a streamlined LiDAR workflow making LiDAR data collection and post-processing more efficient than ever before. Here are 6 applications that will greatly benefit from UAV-LiDAR technology:

  1. LAND SURVEYING: LiDAR sensors can be attached to drones to quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively generate 3D digital terrain models (DTM) of remote or rough areas. UAVs are the right fit tools for covering specific land areas in situations where a manned aircraft is overkill. Drones are easier and faster to deploy than airplanes or helicopters, reducing costs and risk.

  2. POWER LINE INSPECTION FOR MAINTENANCE: Regular maintenance of power lines presents huge safety hazards. LiDAR technology is capable of identifying issues in power lines before they become a problem. Through the use of UAVs, utility companies can quickly assess damage to devise a solution that has the lowest level of risk.

  3. FORESTRY AND FARMING: LiDAR-equipped drones can be deployed to survey large farms to help determine how resources might be used to increase productivity. They can also be used over forest areas to create 3D models that show the impact of human activity. A key advantage of LiDAR is that it is able to penetrate tree cover.

  4. MINING APPLICATIONS: LiDAR proves to be an excellent instrument for calculating volumes of material in open pit mines without disrupting work on the ground. Integrating drones into mining workflows cuts time, costs, and risk exposure.

  5. TRANSPORTATION EXPANSION: City planners looking for a powerful tool to help expand mass transit systems and rail stations need look no further than LiDAR technology. UAVs with LiDAR sensors can scan wide areas and generate useful data to help determine plans for future transportation infrastructure.

  6. ARCHAEOLOGY: Light detection and ranging, or LiDAR, has changed the face of archaeology by making it possible to measure and map objects and structures that might otherwise remain hidden. The “UAV LiDAR revolution that is shifting the way researchers think about their work. In the early 2010s, archaeologists looking for evidence of hard-to-find Maya sites were astonished when LiDAR revealed a lost Maya city. What will be uncovered in the 2020's with UAV enabled LiDAR solutions?

The DJI M300+L1 package from AirWrx includes all the hardware and software necessary for generating fast, accurate, and budget-friendly 3D point clouds, maps and models. Want to discuss the possibilities of aerial LiDAR by drone for your business. Our friendly professionals are eager to help you!

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