How Long Does A Lidar Survey Take

How Long Does A Lidar Survey Take

You’re likely wondering how long it takes to conduct a LiDAR survey. Whether you’re a seasoned professional in the field or a curious newcomer, understanding the timeline is crucial.

LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges. This method is commonly used in numerous applications, including mapping, forestry, and environmental research, among others.

How Long Does A LiDAR Survey Take 1

How Long Does A LiDAR Survey Take?

The duration of a LiDAR survey depends on various factors such as the size and complexity of the area, flight speeds, point densities, and post-processing time. Small-scale projects can take under an hour, while drone-conducted LiDAR surveys can take up to three hours. However, each LiDAR survey is unique, and understanding the influencing factors will help estimate the time required for a specific project.

However, the length of a LiDAR survey isn’t a simple answer.

Various factors come into play, like the size and complexity of the area, flight speeds, point densities, and the steps involved in post-processing.

So, bear with us as we dive deeper into these factors and shed light on what influences the length of a LiDAR survey. It’s not as straightforward as you might think, but by the end of this article, you’ll have a much better handle on it.

How Long Does A LiDAR Survey

How Long Does A LiDAR Survey Take

Contrary to traditional methods, a LiDAR survey’s completion time is remarkably swift.

It often takes mere minutes for building lidar room interiors, under an hour for small-scale projects, and up to three hours for drone-conducted lidar surveys. This rapid data collection capability comes from LiDAR’s technology, which can gather millions of data points per second.

That’s what makes it one of the fastest surveying methods in the industry.

Depending on the LiDAR equipment types used, the scope of your project could be covered efficiently and accurately. For instance, ground-based LiDAR scanners are excellent for surveying highways or construction sites, while drones equipped with LiDAR can easily capture topographic data over expansive areas.

Survey cost factors also play a crucial role in determining the duration of a LiDAR survey. The project’s scale and complexity, the equipment used, and the data processing time all contribute to the cost and time of the survey.

A drone with a flight time of three hours at a speed of five meters per second can cover an impressive 54 survey line kilometers, slightly more than 500 acres. This quick and efficient coverage can significantly reduce the time and cost of large-scale surveys, providing a cost-effective solution for many projects.

Weather implications are a critical factor to consider when planning a LiDAR survey.

However, one of the advantages of LiDAR technology is its ability to operate in various weather conditions. Rain, fog, or cloudy skies that would typically hinder traditional surveying methods do not significantly affect LiDAR.

This versatility not only speeds up the surveying process but also ensures that your project stays on schedule, irrespective of the weather.

So, if you’re looking for a fast, reliable, and weather-resistant surveying method, LiDAR would be your go-to technology.

Influences on LiDAR Survey Length

Influences on LiDAR Survey Length

Despite appearing straightforward, the duration of these high-tech assessments can be significantly affected by variables like current weather conditions, the methodology and equipment employed, and even the density of vegetation within the target area.

In comparison to traditional survey methods, LiDAR surveys are less impeded by weather conditions.

However, adverse elements such as fog, rain, snow, and cloud cover can still affect data collection. The effectiveness of your survey can be compromised if the weather isn’t accounted for properly.

The equipment and methodology used during your survey play a crucial role in the duration of the project. This includes both the quality of the LiDAR equipment and the experience of the operator.

Depending on the project, you might opt for ground-based scanners or airborne systems.

Ground-based scanners are perfect for surveying highways or construction sites, while drones carrying LiDAR equipment can swiftly gather topographic data over large expanses.

Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. Weather conditions: Always factor in potential weather disruptions.
  2. Equipment quality: Invest in reliable and high-performing LiDAR equipment.
  3. Operator experience: Experienced operators can optimize the data collection process.
  4. Vegetation density: Understand that dense forests or areas with complex vegetation structures may prolong the survey.

The density of vegetation within your target area can also influence the duration of your LiDAR survey. Areas with dense forests or complex vegetation structures require more time to accurately capture and process the data.

But remember, these factors aren’t hindrances.

By understanding their impact, you’re better prepared to optimize your data collection process and reduce the time it takes to complete your LiDAR survey.

Area Size Complexity Impact on LiDAR Time

Area Size, Complexity Impact on LiDAR Time

Imagine you’re mapping an entire city versus a single neighborhood – the sheer size and intricate details of the area can certainly ramp up the time needed for your data collection. The larger the project size, the more time it will take for your LiDAR system to scan and cover the terrain.

For instance, an expanse covering thousands of square miles is bound to take longer than a localized survey of a small town or neighborhood. This is because the LiDAR system needs to capture a greater amount of terrain, increasing the time required for data collection.

The complexity of the terrain type you’re surveying can also significantly influence the duration of your LiDAR survey.

Areas with complex features like dense forests, urban areas with towering buildings, or regions with considerable elevation changes require more time. This is because your LiDAR system has to capture more data points to accurately represent these intricate features.

Weather conditions too can affect your survey duration. Unpredictable weather can cause delays in data collection, especially if you’re surveying an outdoor area.

Lastly, the type of surveying equipment you use can impact the time taken for a LiDAR survey. Advanced LiDAR systems can often capture data more quickly and accurately, potentially reducing the time required for a survey. However, these systems may also require more time for setup and calibration, which could offset some of the time saved during data collection.

So, when planning a LiDAR survey, consider these factors to estimate the time required accurately. Remember, larger and more complex areas will likely demand more from your LiDAR system and potentially increase the time taken for your survey.

Flight Speeds Point Densities and LiDAR Length

Flight Speeds, Point Densities and LiDAR Length

Adjusting your flight speeds and point densities can indeed play a significant role in the duration of your data collection process. If you’re using a fixed-wing aircraft for your LiDAR survey, you’ll typically be flying at speeds around 120 knots.

However, if you’re using a drone, you’ll want to slow down to between 5 to 7 m/s for optimal data density and vegetation penetration.

It’s a delicate balance, though, because while slower speeds can result in higher point densities, they also increase the time required to cover your survey area.

Equipment calibration is another important consideration.

The specific requirements of your project, as well as the capabilities of your equipment, will determine the optimal point densities you should aim for. Point densities can range from 0.5 points per square meter for large-scale airborne surveys to 20 points per square meter for higher-resolution projects.

Keep in mind that higher point densities can provide more detailed data, but they also require more time for data collection and processing.

Weather conditions can also impact the duration of your LiDAR survey. Unfavorable weather can slow down your flight speeds or even halt your survey entirely. It’s also important to consider that data interpretation may take longer with higher point densities, as there will be more data to analyze.

So while slower flight speeds and higher point densities might give you more detailed data, they can also mean a longer survey time.

It’s all about finding the right balance that fits your project needs and budget.

Post Processing Steps in LiDAR Completion Timeline

Post-Processing Steps in LiDAR Completion Timeline

Ready to dive into the nitty-gritty of post-processing in LiDAR data analysis?

It’s an essential part of the process, and while it can be a bit time-consuming, it’s well worth the effort to ensure accurate and reliable results.

The first step is filtering and cleaning point clouds, a process that involves removing noise and outliers from the raw LiDAR point cloud data.

This step is crucial for generating reliable data.

Then, you’ll work on generating DEMs (Digital Elevation Models) and DSMs (Digital Surface Models) from the LiDAR point clouds. These models represent the terrain and surface features, and creating them requires interpolating the point cloud data to get a continuous surface representation.

Next up is georeferencing the data.

This step involves assigning real-world coordinates to the LiDAR point cloud data, a critical process for integrating the data with other geospatial datasets and conducting spatial analyses. Data calibration is also a part of this process, ensuring the data is accurate to its real-world counterparts.

Alongside this, you’ll need to handle data format translation. LiDAR data is often stored in the LAS file format, but you might need to convert it to other formats depending on the software you’re using or the specific requirements of your project.

Post-Processing StepsImportanceExample
Filtering and cleaning point cloudsEssential for generating reliable dataRemoving noise and outliers
Georeferencing and data calibrationCritical for integrating data and conducting analysesAssigning real-world coordinates
Data format translationNecessary for software compatibility and project requirementsConverting LAS file format

Quality assurance is your final step.

This involves both internal and external quality control procedures, and is an integral part of ensuring the accuracy and reliability of LiDAR data. Lidar classification also plays a role here, helping to identify and categorize different types of points in the data for a more accurate final result. Remember, each day of flight data collected typically needs one to two days of processing.

But don’t be daunted by the timeline, as these steps are crucial for ensuring the quality and usability of your LiDAR data.

LiDAR drone surveyor

Frequently Asked Questions


So, you see, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how long a LiDAR survey takes. It’s influenced by various factors like the size and complexity of the area, flight speeds, point densities, and the time it takes for post-processing.

Remember, each LiDAR survey is unique. The key is to understand the influencing factors and plan accordingly. This way, you’ll be able to estimate the time your specific project may take.

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *