Determining the capabilities and limitations of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) equipped with Light Detection Ranging (LiDAR) sensors when applied to hydrologic studies, infrastructure, mapping, and general land data collection

Project ID: 20091
Principal Investigator: Meyer Jay
Research Topic: Condition Assessment
Funded Fiscal Years: 2020
Keywords: None

Research Question

The ability to obtain high quality topographic data is a challenging and time consuming process. The current methods of obtaining this level of quality data and information utilizes traditional terrestrial GPS equipment which requires a greater amount of staff and time. With increasing technology innovations, it could be possible to obtain topographic data over much larger areas in a shorter amount of time and utilizing less staff with the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) equipped with Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors.

Advances in Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) have proven to be valuable in topographic data collection operations. The advantage of LiDAR as opposed to alternate methods such as photogrammetry and traditional survey practices, is the ability to penetrate vegetation layers and return surface level elevations.

The need to obtain topographic data could stem from a magnitude of needs. Whether the need to have high quality topographic data will aid in developing inundation maps of upstream and downstream of reservoirs or assist in the construction and design of recreation sites, UAS equipped with LiDAR can provide that information in a fraction of the time it would take to obtain it in a traditional fashion. A specific project that this type of technology would be tested and utilized on would be obtaining topography upstream of Lugert-Altus Reservoir located in Lone Wolf, OK. In the past, this type of data for this specific area was collected using traditional GPS survey methods and practices however, not only was that extremely time consuming, collecting data over a several hundred acre area on foot, we believe that LiDAR has the capability to collect updated data, more accurate data, more frequent collection of data, all while reducing boots on the ground. Reclamation Technical Service Center has attempted to obtain this type of information utilizing UAS using photogrammetric method

Need and Benefit

UAS provide a safe, capable, and cost efficient method of collection data. LiDAR is a proven surveying method of collecting high quality topographic data. The combination of these two cutting edge technologies has the ability to provide a vehicle that is capable of filing a current void in data collection. UAS airborne LiDAR has applicability across many facets of Reclamation mission.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20