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LiDAR and Point Cloud Processing

Published August 18, 2021
ScanX LiDAR Scanning Point Cloud

Data source: https://www.airborneresearch.org.au/

LiDAR and Point Cloud Processing has been an existing technology for several years now and is a vital technology backbone for many industries. It creates a precise, three-dimensional digital twin of the earth and more importantly, the objects on the earth.

What is LiDAR and how can it benefit you and your organization? This article will answer all these questions and more.


What is LiDAR?

ScanX Tree Segment Management

Datasource: http://dymaxion.co/

As mentioned above, LiDAR is a sensing and data capture method that uses lights as lasers to measure different dimensions of an object. A 3D point cloud model uses these measurements or representations of space after processing.

Thus, it is possible to take accurate area information about a surface or a specific object. It utilizes different types of wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum such as visible light and infrared.

A LiDAR sensor calculates the time it takes for these light particles to reflect off an object uses it to create distances. LiDAR does not only work on a solid surface. It also has applications in shallow waters such as coastlines and rivers.

LiDAR Scanning Wavelengths

LiDAR does not only work on a solid surface. It can also be applied in shallow waters such as coastlines and rivers.

How LiDAR and Point Cloud Processing Functions

LiDAR functions through a process like echolocation. A LiDAR sensor sends off light pulses in the form of lasers, and it calculates the total time taken for it to go back to the source. The same methodology in how bats track prey through sound bouncing off them.

However, instead of sound, LiDAR uses light.These are the main components of a LiDAR system: laser source and scanner, timing system, GPS, Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), and processor. The laser source and scanner serve as the sender and receiver of laser signals.

LiDAR Scanning How Light Works
These are the main components of a LiDAR system: laser source and scanner, timing system, GPS, Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), and processor.

The timing system calculates the duration of the path. Location and positioning uses GPS, while the IMU helps in determining scanner coordinates. Lastly, the processor coagulates all the data into coherent figures.

ScanX Parts of a Lidar Scanner

Types of LiDAR


Aerial LiDAR, otherwise called Airborne LiDAR, is one of the most commonly seen types of LiDAR in the industry.

These are LiDAR systems integrated with drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that try to cover data capture during flight.

One advantage of Aerial LiDAR is that it is easy to use since a surveyor only needs to fly over a surface. However, there are many strict regulations and environmental rules concerning it, so it can be a bit limited.

LiDAR and Drone Photo for Point Cloud

Data source: http://www.sekido.com/


Simply put, terrestrial laser scans, also known as TLS are systems that are installed in tripods or cars. The type is known for the accurate and dense data that it provides, as well as good colorization and intensity identification.

One disadvantage of terrain LiDAR is that it has difficulties in capturing angles covered by shadows or shades.

Leica RT6 360

Image by Leica Geo System via Leica RTC360 3D Laser Scanner

Mobile (Backpack)

Mobile LiDAR refers to systems that can be carried around by a single person. LiDAR on a backpack used to capture area information on a person’s path is an example of this.

Due to the complex technologies involved in a LiDAR, these devices can be a bit heavy to carry.

Image by GreenValley International: LiBackpack C50-GreenValley International

Mobile LiDAR refers to systems that can be carried around by a single person. An instance of this can be seen in LiDAR on a backpack that is used to capture area information on a person’s path.


Bathymetric LiDAR is mainly used in surveying bodies of water. It utilizes water penetrating green light to detect terrain elevations and even seafloor height.


Due to the complex technologies involved in a LiDAR, these devices can be a bit heavy to carry.

LiDAR in Smartphones

Phone LiDARs such as in next-generation iPhones are small scanners attached beside or in the cameras of smartphones. Their main purpose is to improve picture-taking and augmented reality applications.

Uses of LiDAR

Automotive. In the automotive industry, LiDAR has paved the way for self-driving cars. Due to great improvements in real-time data capture of objects around a vehicle, it has become possible to determine safe routes almost instantly. We are partnering up with big players such as www.hitachi.com to help drive the Autonomous Haul trucks on complex mine and construction sites.

LiDAR in vehicles

Forestry. LiDAR also has great benefits for the forestry industry. With it, the survey of forests and canopies can be easier thanks to 3D data provided by a scan. When this data is loaded onto automated point cloud processing tools such as ScanX, individual information on tree number, size, and even diameter can be generated.

ScanX Point Cloud Mountain

Data source: www.scanx.com

Construction. LiDAR also opens endless possibilities for construction. Instead of tiring manual surveys, pre-assessment of an area can just be done by a drone + LiDAR system. This also makes way for site analysis and scenario simulations even during a construction job.

ScanX Poinmt Cloud Road and Bridge Construction

Data source: www.scanx.com

Mining. In mining, steep areas can be accessible especially with UAV and LiDAR technologies. Not only that but LiDAR computes the total mineral reserves of a given area to determine possible profits. It also ensures safer workplaces through disaster management capabilities.

Stockpile Ore Management ScanX

Data source: www.scanx.com

Inspection. Inspections become fully automated with the help of LiDAR technology. Instead of going to a site that can have hazards, a surveyor can just view scanned 3D point cloud data of a specific place at the comfort of his or her office. This enables better analysis of a given area that is not bounded by time and proximity.

ScanX Point Cloud Bridge Construction

Data source: www.scanx.com

Advantages of LiDAR

Automation. With the shortage in labor and skills, we will provide your team with the most cost-efficient tool for your business to make. It is really a no-brainer.

Real-time data. LiDAR can provide instantaneous data of any surface thanks to its fast generation of information. Also, this removes restrictions in the assessment and analysis of different sites.

Accuracy. With the help of precise laser-based technology, LiDAR can provide accurate data on distances and measurements. Additionally, these can be accurate down to a centimeter or millimeter.

No human errors. Since LiDAR relies on the power of scanners and computers, faults due to human intervention are rare cases.

3D model generation. With great 3D point cloud data processors, LiDAR information can be transformed into 3D models that can be dragged, rotated around, and visualized.

LiDAR and Point Cloud Processing

The role of LiDAR Data does not stop at scanning and capturing. It can also be extended to post-processing. With great 3D processing software, a user can get more value from the extracted point cloud attributes. Thus, searching for the best one should always be a priority.

ScanX Point Cloud Segmentation

Data source: www.scanx.com


ScanX is a 3D LiDAR and point cloud processing platform that automates workflows concerning data. To add, it can classify and segment your given 3D Data into separate objects such as ground, infrastructure, vegetation, and even noise or dirt.

As a web-based platform, it removes the need for software that has huge system demands. This also heightens collaboration capabilities for engineers, developers, and site managers. We dare you to try it.

Web-Based, High-Accuracy Point Cloud Processing.
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