Drones for Surveying

Using Drone Lidar to Survey Powerlines

See how the Professionals at Kuker-Ranken use Drone LiDAR to survey powerlines.

Drone LiDAR provides a very efficient and non-intrusive means to scan, map, and measure powerlines and power facilities on transmission poles. The team at Kuker-Ranken is using the mdLiDAR1000UHR to demonstrate how their customers can use LiDAR technology to measure wire heights from the ground, accurately locate power poles, and efficiently survey powerlines. 

Click the image below to watch their workflow in these 2 powerline surveying videos that show how to Plan, Fly, Process and Visualize the data collected from this powerline corridor mapping project.

Click the image above to watch the videos

Collecting Drone LiDAR

Kuker-Ranken, the largest construction and land surveying supplier in the Northwest United States, is a prominent supplier of Microdrones and GeoCue drone surveying equipment and LP360 Drone processing software. They provide surveyors, engineering firms, and construction companies with drone LiDAR and mapping software to achieve successful data collection, processing, and management.

To help their customers get the most out of their mapping equipment and supplies, the Kuker-Ranken team will often conduct product demonstrations and capability tests.  Recently they documented their workflow to illustrate the capabilities of the mdLiDAR1000UHR to survey powerlines with drone LiDAR.

Brady Reisch, the Virtual Design and Construction Reality Capture specialist from Kuker-Ranken piloted the drone for this mission and explains why the Microdrones fully integrated system is ideal for surveying powerlines.

“The mdLidar1000UHR is perfect for this type of flight because we have 32 returns that are coming back into the sensor, giving us a ton of data to analyze,” he said.  “For this project, we’ll fly for approximately 8 minutes over the top of three different towers, and survey all the lines and infrastructure.”

Drone LiDAR can quickly and efficiently scan powerlines.

Using the mdCockpit flight planning application from Microdrones makes it easy for Brady to plan, monitor and fly the mission.

“With the Microdrones mdCockpit application, we’re able to maintain equidistance from the ground, using the terrain following feature,” Brady explains. “This allows us to sustain that equidistance from the drone to the power lines and ensure that we capture the most accurate data possible.”

Douglas Spotted Eagle, the Chief Revenue Officer at Kuker-Ranken, helped oversee the powerline corridor survey and acted as Brady’s visual observer, for the duration of the flight.

“Once all the data capture has been completed, we’ll go back to the office and use LP360 to create our deliverables,” Douglas said.  “We’ll then be able to provide our customer with a series of profiles and data on these powerlines, so they can get an idea of what LIDAR and this high-density point cloud can bring to the table and help optimize and make their projects more efficient.”

Powerlines processed in LP360 point cloud software

LP360 Processing

LP360 LiDAR & photogrammetry 3D point cloud software has been trusted by GIS professionals for nearly 20 years and makes easy work of extracting information and generating deliverables in an intuitive GIS environment.

The extensive geospatial toolbox in the software allows the user to create high-quality deliverables such as contours, ground classification, volumetric analysis, digital elevation models, and transmission line models.

When it comes to surveying powerlines, the Powerlines Extractor point cloud task in LP360 extracts power line catenaries from the point cloud, with options to classify points and vectorize the catenaries, making it much easier to analyze the powerline corridor data.

Brady points out that “With the mdLiDAR1000UHR, we get fantastic coverage. Reviewing the data in LP360, we can see that there's no missing information.  The software enables us to create a deliverable in an .LAS file or the point cloud itself and generate a final report to analyze the line sag, length, vegetation issues or see if there’s anything further to review within the towers.”

If you’d like more information on using drone LiDAR to survey powerlines, schedule a time to speak with one of our professional representatives.