Get High Resolution Drone Lidar with the mdLiDAR1000HR from Microdrones


Take a closer look at the mdLiDAR1000HR:

The mdLiDAR1000HR is an end-to-end solution with a variety of enhancements that translate into improved efficiencies and higher-quality data that bridges the gap between the 1000 and 3000 series.

Microdrones is committed to providing leading-edge systems that incorporate the latest and best technologies, and the mdLiDAR1000HR certainly does that, said Frank Darmayan COO, Microdrones. HR stands for high resolution, which the Velodyne PUCK VLP-16 provides, an upgrade over the LiDAR sensor used in the older system.

The mdLiDAR1000HR gives surveyors and other professionals an easy-to-use tool to collect and process the data they need, providing better quality than the 1000 series has ever offered before—quality that is closer to what customers get from the higher-end 3000 series.

“The 3000 series, which is a larger airframe, is equipped with an upper shelf payload,” Darmayan said. “There’s always been a big difference in quality between the 1000 and the 3000 systems. The HR starts to bridge that gap, helping to fill a void in the product line.”

The mdLiDAR1000HR

The Features

The mdLiDAR1000HR comes equipped with the Velodyne PUCK VLP-16 LiDAR sensor, a lightweight, downward-oriented solution that scans up to a 90-degree field of view, compared to the mdLiDAR1000’s 60. This expanded field of view allows the system to cover more ground in a single pass, meaning fewer, more efficient flights. The upgraded LiDAR sensor also offers a significant increase in point density and accuracy (4 cm versus 6 cm), so users get better data. The scanner collects 16 layers during a scan, an improvement from four, and gets two returns instead of three.

The biggest improvement, Darmayan said, is the resolution.

“The details you’re able to see in the LiDAR, the crispness of the edge features you can extract from it, that wasn’t possible with the older scanner,” Darmayan said. “With the HR, you’re able to gather more usable information across the entire site, not just particular areas. For example, this system can capture hard surfaces very accurately. You can’t get that with the other system.”

The point cloud generated also can be colorized, Darmayan said, because the 5-megapixel SONY IMX264 camera on-board provides the same field of view as the scanner, which isn’t the case with the mdLidar1000’s camera.

With the mdLiDAR1000HR, you’re able to gather more usable information across the entire site, not just particular areas. For example, this system can capture hard surfaces very accurately.

Frank Darmayan COO, Microdrones

Built on the md4-1000 platform, mdLiDAR1000HR is lighter than its predecessor with a 6,500-gram takeoff weight and can withstand slightly higher temperatures during flight.

Like all Microdrones systems, operators use mdCockpit for flight planning and mdInfinity for seamless post-processing. The APX-15 UAV DG from Applanix provides georeferencing, with the compact, single-board module featuring a survey-grade GNSS receiver and a precisely calibrated IMU for mapping.

The mdLiDAR1000HR also comes with a battery charger, rugged carrying case, and integrated cooling covers, a feature unique to Microdrones, to keep the motors cool and enhance longevity. An encrypted datalink connects the drone to the user’s tablet, with an extended communication range available. There’s also the ability to hand over control between tablets, an optional feature. That means midway through a corridor mission, for example, the initial operator can pass the drone off to someone else to complete the rest of the flight without interruption.

All these features make the mdLiDAR1000HR an exciting addition to the GE industrial drone line Darmayan said, with the end-to-end LiDAR solution providing the accurate, rich data customers need.

“There’s such a difference in the quality of the data you can generate with this product over the mdLiDAR1000,” Darmayan said. “It has greater precision and accuracy, better resolution, and an increase in point density. It’s definitely a big improvement.”

A point cloud created in mdInfinity with high resolution data collected by the mdLiDAR1000HR

Use Cases

Surveying and mapping are the most common applications for the mdLiDAR1000HR Darmayan said, with corridor mapping a “great application.” Construction sites can use the system for monitoring and stockpile volume calculations, while the mining industry can deploy it for projects like high wall mapping. Monitoring crop growth and health in the agriculture world is an example of another use case.

Environmental changes, forestry, con-tour mapping, highway construction, archaeology, as well as planning, leveling, and excavation are other areas that benefit from the high-quality deliverables the mdLiDAR1000HR can provide.

Customers are already finding interesting, impressive ways to use the new system. For example, the mdLiDAR1000HR was recently deployed to survey 1,800 acres by a creek basin, Darmayan said, after heavy rains flooded the creek and washed stockpiled materials from a nearby construction site downstream. The sediment ended up on two different tracts of land, both private property, leaving a sod farmer with less area to cultivate and a cattle rancher with less grass for grazing.

Navigation Electronics, a distributor of Microdrones, demonstrated the new mdLiDAR1000HR to survey the two sites impacted, using the data collected to assess and quantify the amount of sediment deposited—a task that would have been costly and time-consuming if completed by foot, especially given the rough terrain.

Click the image above to view a high resolution point cloud created with the mdLiDAR1000HR

The team used the Microdrones Plan, Fly, Process, and Visualize workflow for each of the 28 flights that occurred over three days. They covered about 60 acres in each 25-to-30-minute flight. The system flew at an altitude of 50 meters, with 50% overlap at a speed of 5 meters per second leading to a point density of more than 280 points per square meter.

The mdInfinity software generated the point cloud, with the Trajectory Processing, Geocoding, and Precision Enhancement (+ noise reduction) modules used to ensure accuracy.

With ground classification, the team was able to remove vegetation to develop digital terrain models from the bare earth data. A full surface model was also created, giving the team everything they needed to assess the sediment deposits.

 “They were able to get the survey done in the detail and resolution they needed,” Darmayan said. “Our older system doesn’t have the resolution required to create the deliverables they were looking for with this project. The area the system covered and the short amount of time it took was pretty impressive.”

When to use LiDAR

Both LiDAR and photogrammetry have their strengths, which is why the mdLiDAR1000HR offers both, what Darmayan describes as a huge advantage that gives users the ability to generate colorized point clouds and orthomosaics with one payload.

Choosing which sensor to use depends on the application. LiDAR really shines when working in vegetative areas, for example. The sensor’s multiple returns and frequent laser firing enables it to penetrate vegetation to get to the ground, something that isn’t possible with photogrammetry.

LiDAR generates its own light source, so it can gather information day or night; photogrammetry payloads can’t. It also takes less time to process the data collected.

“LiDAR lends itself to generating a more rich result and actually pulls direct measurements from the point cloud,” Darmayan said. “With photogrammetry, there’s a lot of processing involved to get to the point where you have the exact information you need for mapping.”

The mdLiDAR1000HR in flight.

Why Invest in the mdLiDAR1000HR

This system represents the next generation of LiDAR surveying equipment, providing users with significantly higher resolution, increased accuracy, and denser point clouds than the mdLidar1000. It’s an end-to-end drone LiDAR solution that comes with a fully integrated LiDAR processing and photogrammetry software workflow, making data collection and processing seamless.

The company behind the system is also a trusted drone manufacturer that provides customers with the support they need to successfully finish projects, generating high-quality deliverables with actionable insights. The Microdrones team is committed to offering the complete solutions customers need, continually enhancing features, and further streamlining workflows.

“We’re always looking to improve and create solutions like the mdLiDAR1000HR that are cutting edge,” Darmayan said. “That’s how we’re moving the drone surveying industry forward.”

If you're thinking about investing in drone surveying equipment and would like to learn more about the mdLiDAR1000HR, schedule a meeting with one of our sales representatives today.