Earlier this year, I gave a talk on interpreting specifications of UAV lidar systems. I promised a few folks that I would write a white paper on the topic and they took me up on the offer. To get started on this task (which I know will be a long time coming), I though I would devote this month’s column to considerations of UAV lidar systems that are capable of a very wide-angle field of view (FOV).
Lidar scanners originally designed for mobile mapping or automotive applications (such as Velodyne) are now being adopted as airborne laser scanners for UAV deployment. These scanners often use either a set of fixed laser diodes on a rotating spindle or a single laser steered by a rotating mirror. As such, they offer a 360° or near 360° FOV. This is fine, though much of the data is wasted since the scanner is imaging the bottom of the UAV and/or the sky. The problem comes in when you examine the specifications some of the scanner integration companies are promoting. Let’s dive in to this a bit.
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