LiDAR is a scanning and ranging laser system that produces accurate Digital Terrain Models that can be used for contour modeling. With the ability to “see through the trees,” LiDAR has the capability to provide accurate surface modeling in places never before possible. Because of its thin beam of light, LiDAR is small enough to shoot between branches on trees and reach the ground, returning data accurate up to 0.5 foot.
While flying over the project area, a laser sweeps back and forth across the ground scanning the surface and its features. After making contact with the ground, the beam energy returns to the aircraft, producing point data as well as infrared images. After all the data is collected, it is processed into a point-derived image. Each point, which is 3-dimensional, can be viewed in any direction desired, providing a 3-D representation of a scene. This gives the ability to look at a segment vertically, sideways, or to rotate the canvas for different views—and all from only one flyover. All of this data can be processed in a matter of weeks, unlike manual photogrammetric techniques that can take months before they are completed.
LiDAR is perfect for collecting data in heavily-forested areas and river reaches. LiDAR can even be used at night if necessary.