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Drone LiDARs: The Future of Scanning

Published December 3, 2021
ScanX Drone LiDARs

What are drones?

Drones are dominating the future of surveillance. Also called UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles, these are basically flying robots that have various types of functions. Back then, they were mainly used for military purposes. However, drones now show prominence in the field of surveying.

Drone LiDARs

What is drone-based LiDAR?

Drone-based LiDARs simply mean that a LiDAR sensor is embedded in the flight system. This used to be impossible due to the sheer size of LiDAR kits Luckily, improvements in the technology led to smaller sensors and cheaper ones. This led to the installation and mounting of LiDAR in drones, making the whole surveying and scanning process easier.

Types of LiDAR Drones

These are the different types of drones used in various industries:

Fixed Wing/Classical

Albatross UAV

Source: https://www.appliedaeronautics.com/albatross-uav

Fixed Wing drones are those that do not have rotating components. These objects are shaped like airplanes and act like such, having fixed wings as the name suggests. A disadvantage of using fixed-wing drones is that they are not able to hover. These UAVs are only capable of forwarding motion. However, they make up for this limitation due to the capability of very long flights.

Fixed Wing drones are commonly utilized for military reconnaissance and gathering intel in far-flung areas. Equipment for LiDAR is possible as such UAV is possible but limited to applications like pipeline and power line inspection. The reason is that it moves at a fast flight speed rendering precise scanning difficult.


Single Rotors


Source: https://www.prodrone.com/products/pdh-gs120/

As the name suggests, single rotors rely on one large rotating blade to keep it suspended in the air. However, it also has a tail rotor whose main purpose is to control direction. The main benefit of a single rotor is reduced power delivery as only one component needs the majority of the energy. However, they are a bit more unstable compared to multiple rotor UAVs.

These devices are mainly used for heavy LiDAR sensors that require hovering and good forward speed. Power can even be pumped up by employing a hybrid of gas and electricity as a source.

Multiple Rotor

Multiple rotor drones are those that have 2 or more helicopter blades embedded. They are mainly used for small-scale scans due to restricted endurance and flight time. However, improvements and modern design enabled them to be utilized for heavy-duty fieldwork. Some applications of the robot include aerial photography, scanning, and video inspection.

Multi-Rotor Drone

Among the three drones, multiple rotors have the best controllability. This makes them exceptionally good in Mining or Underground sites as well as tight indoor offices. Many industries make use of lightweight LiDAR payloads in multi-rotor UAVs because of the convenience and low costs.

Modern Applications

In this section, you will find the best applications for Drone LiDARs.

Hazard Areas

If you have been to any area where an accident occurred, chances are everything will be a mess. This renders information gathering for rescuers very difficult due to the presence of obstructions. Drone LiDARs help in easier assessments of scenarios so authorities can easily have the best possible plan.

ScanX Point Cloud Disaster Management

In a recent project of ScanX, we helped in the disaster response of the Japanese Government due to a landslide. This only goes to show the potential of technology in saving lives.


Crop height estimates, as well as irrigation flow analysis, are important for any agricultural venture. Drone LiDARs assist in the fabrication of Digital Surface Models to generate a 3D view of the whole farm or cropland. Through this, farmers or owners can easily predict future yields or necessary improvements


Obstruction Surveying

ScanX Airport Survey

Virtual Reality

One of the current global trends is integrating Social Media into Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). With Facebook’s change in company focus towards the MetaVerse, DX or Digital Transformation of places will surely occur. Drone LiDARs are the best tool for this type of task as they can turn scans into DSMs or Digital Surface Models.

Such models can then be quicky uploaded to AR or VR applications for endless possibilities. This includes virtual tours, dates, and even hangouts with companions.

Smart Processor for Drone LiDARs

For an amazing drone LiDARs such as Nextcore’s LUMOS to function optimally, it needs an equally intelligent processor. ScanX is a web-based point cloud processing platform that takes classification and automation to a whole new level, thanks to machine learning capabilities.


NextCore LUMOS

We are capable of seamless communication and collaboration from site to office, thanks to shareable links that can view projects in real-time. FOr more information, get a free-trial below.

Web-Based, High-Accuracy Point Cloud Processing.
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