THE BEST SURVEYING TOOL FOR THE JOB
Spain-based Servitopo recently used the mdLiDAR1000 from Microdrones for a large solar park construction project, enhancing efficiencies to quickly gather and process the necessary data.
by Renee Knight
As seen in the October/November 2021 Issue of Inside Unmanned Systems
Last year, a large renewable energy company reached out to Servitopo for help with a solar park construction project. The company needed a cartography and digital model of the terrain, which consisted of more than 1,000 hectares in five parks with different distanced locations.
The project, based in Spain, presented many challenges, but was one the Servitopo team knew drone LiDAR from Microdrones could handle. Servitopo, a Microdrones distributor that specializes in the sale, rental, and service of precision surveying equipment, had been deploying their system since 2019 and had already seen first-hand the benefits the rugged UAS could provide.
“The efficiency found in the complete plan, fly, process and visualize workflow from Microdrones along with the accuracy of the mdLiDAR1000 is extremely beneficial to our clients,” Servitopo Commercial Manager & Survey Engineer César Macías said of why they invested in the system in the first place. “Having an integrated high-end LiDAR solution helps us cover large areas in a shorter time than with traditional surveying methods.”
And that’s exactly what the team needed for this project. With traditional techniques, it would have taken too many resources to finish in the necessary time frame. Using drone LiDAR, the team was able to significantly improve efficiencies on site and gather all the necessary information in 23 days.
César Macías, Commercial Manager & Survey Engineer, Servitopo
The efficiency found in the complete Plan, Fly, Process and Visualize workflow from Microdrones along with the accuracy of the mdLiDAR1000 is extremely beneficial to our clients. Having an integrated high-end LiDAR solution helps us cover large areas in shorter time than with traditional surveying methods.
During the project, the team flew 8 -10 flights a day, with each one lasting 20 minutes. The flights covered about 18 hectares with a point density of 42pt/sq mt.
The client needed a minimum point density of 7X7 mesh, which is one of the reasons the Servitopo team decided drone LiDAR was the best solution, Macías said. They also had to deal with rain and fog, along with olive tree plantations. The trees surrounded the area and made it difficult to use GPS.
The team combined drone LiDAR with some traditional surveying methods, such as collecting data on drainage elements, infrastructure, and buildings, to meet the client’s needs. The mdLiDAR1000 collected the data necessary to create a map of the large area with different elements and contour lines, as well as a digital elevation model.
Mission planning was also a challenge, with the system having to take off from several different points because of the large survey area. It also didn’t help that many areas that needed surveying were inaccessible by foot—another reason to deploy drone LiDAR.
Leveraging Other Microdrones Tools
Servitopo used mdCockpit for mission planning and mdInfinity software to process all the data collected. Typically, the team relied on three mdInfinity data processing models to create topographic mapping surveys and digital elevation models with 7X7 point density: Trajectory Processing, Georeferencing, and Precision Enhancement.
“Using mdInfinity is great,” said Francisco Fonseca, a surveying engineer and 3D expert for Servitopo, “because it’s a fast and easy-to-use tool to transform our LiDAR data.”
The solar park undertaking was a great success, with the drone LiDAR providing efficiencies not possible with traditional survey tools. In the last year, Servitopo has worked on a variety of other projects as well, including another solar park. For this client, Servitopo used their system from Microdrones to survey areas from 100 - 200 hectares to generate digital models for the pre-project phase.
The company also worked on a project for power line designs. “During the pre-project phase in areas with no or difficult access,” Macías said, “UAV LiDAR is the best tool.”
Servitopo also has plans to deploy their system for a variety of other use cases, Macías said, noting “there is a growing market for 3D data in Spain that’s looking to use this technology for their projects.” Future applications include forestry, volume calculation for biomass stock, and mine surveys. For the mine applications, the company will fly the system to perform surveys before and after extraction every month.
Servitopo has supported small, medium, and large construction and engineering companies as well as public administrations since 2003. The trusted company is now a Microdrones distributor, offering Microdrones Integrated Systems that come with everything clients need for surveying and mapping, including the drone, the sensors, the software, and the hardware.
They also use the products themselves, enabling them to provide clients with improved efficiencies and enhanced productivity.
“It allows us to do more projects in less time,” Macías said, “increasing our business opportunities and revenues.”
If you would like to add drone LiDAR to your workflow, CLICK HERE to speak with one of our representatives.