New ways for aerial LiDAR mapping – the Qube 240 with the Trinity F90+ UAV
Light Ranging and Detection (LiDAR) sensors, partly traded as the key technology of the future for autonomous driving are also the first choice for highly productive survey tasks.
Until recently, LiDAR payloads were hardly affordable for SMEs due to their high cost. This is exactly where Quantum-Systems comes in and offers a geomatics grade LiDAR scanner integrated into the payload compartment of the Trinity F90+ drone including software package without having to compromise on data quality.
The Trinity F90+ in combination with the Qube 240 LiDAR payload offers 1 hour of flight time and safe VTOL (Vertical Take-Off & Landing). The LiDAR sensor and the long flight time are key for a positive ROI.
In comparison, LiDAR missions by manned aviation are on average 10x more expensive and considerably less accurate.
Where did we fly?
The project location was approximately 110 km northwest of the capital of Ghana in the Birmi region. The whole mission area was located in the tropical rainforest.
Use Case Location
Why using the Quantum-Systems solution for this mission?
We partnered with Rocketmine to pioneer new solutions for mapping. Rocketmine is a global drone data service provider, offering full turnkey drone solutions across continents for multiple sectors including mining, agriculture, engineering, renewables, security, and medical to name a few.
The task was to survey an area of 6,500 hectares in an equatorial jungle environment in Ghana / West Africa. This extreme operational setting provided an ideal testbed for the use of our Trinity F90+ VTOL drone solution in combination with the Qube 240 LiDAR payload.
The dense jungle environment is problematic for conventional photogrammetric survey techniques and RGB sensors, as they cannot penetrate the various tree layers of the terrain.
As the first active deployment of a Quantum-Systems drone solution in the region, Rocketmines’ team was able to pioneer the use of this groundbreaking technology and quickly gather relevant data to accomplish the mission goals.
Mapping 65 sqkm with a LiDAR Sensor is possible within 4 days with a UAV
Here you can see a part of the primeval forest to be captured at the first starting point. It is almost impenetrable jungle, at least to capture it with conventional surveying methods to the centimeter. To acquire useful data in this area, the LiDAR sensor must penetrate several vegetation layers.
The mission goals:
- Create digital orthophotos for the area of interest (AOI) à 65 sqkm in total
- Create a digital terrain model (DTM) for the AOI
- Mark contour lines with 0.5m isohypses
- Create a watershed simulation with the collected data
- Large areas with no take-off and landing sites in the center of the AOI
- Hot and humid climate conditions (40° – 45°C)
- Most part of the AOI is covered with dense tropical rain forest.
The Quantum-Systems Trinity F90+ with the Qube 240 LiDAR Payload during the Project in Ghana. 60 minutes of flight time with one charge are possible. Thanks to electric vertical take-off and landing capabilities handling in demanding environments is a breeze.
The benefits of a sUAS for mapping missions
By using the Trinity F90+ it was possible to survey the extensive area within a short time. Compared to a copter drone as the carrying platform, which has significantly less endurance, the flight time of 60 minutes is the decisive advantage. In combination with the vertical take-off capability, there are also no restrictions regarding the take-off and landing area.
The use of manned solutions would not only have been more expensive by a factor of 10 due to the increased logistical requirements but would also have been significantly worse in terms of data quality due to an accuracy of only 20 cm horizontally and 10 cm vertically.
The data the LiDAR Sensor delivered offers a deep insight into the local environment in terms of elevation. The complete point cloud vs the reduced ground-level data is shown in the slider above.
How we performed the mission
The area was mapped with a total of 20 flights (300-350ha per flight) in 100-120 meters flight altitude.
The final data had an overall accuracy of 2.32 cm in elevation. With the Qube 240 LiDAR payload,
we were able to record a total of 11,1 billion points and 2,6 billion ground points from the 6,00 hectares surveyed. After post-processing, we were able to acquire 40 ground points per square meter under dense vegetation.
A digital terrain model was created using this data set, including a watershed simulation to get situational awareness.
The slider shows the entire region with optional 0.5 m and 2 m contour lines to make a final estimate in terms of surface water distribution.
The captured data enables sustainable management, as well as preventive protective measures for local emergencies. Due to the manageable effort, the data acquisition in such difficult terrain is a suitable instrument to guarantee high data quality and information for decision making with minimal investment.
“Mapping 6500ha in 20 flights is incredible and a real optimization in terms of planning efforts! The Trinity F90+ & Qube 240 Combo is a beast of a setup!””
Recap on what we learned
Use state of the art hard- and software
Having an effective and reliable system consisting of a fixed-wing VTOL UAV and an accurate LiDAR solution is key to successful data gathering in a difficult mission setting.
You need real experts
To have the necessary equipment ready is just one piece of the puzzle. Without experts in flight planning and data processing, the results would not have been possible. Shoutout to Rocketmines’ crew for your great work and local authorities for your support!
Better results compared to available competitors
Compared to other available systems the quality of the data, time, and cost savings have been substantial!