Drone lidar for land surveying

19 February, 2023
Drone LiDAR for Land Surveying

Land surveying is a necessary process that involves measuring and mapping the physical features of a piece of land. 


Traditionally, land surveying has been done using ground-based tools and techniques. However, technological advances have made it possible to use drones and lidar sensors to conduct land surveys more efficiently and accurately.


What is drone lidar?

Lidar, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing technology that uses laser beams to create a 3D map of a surface.


Lidar systems typically consist of a laser, a scanner, and a GPS receiver. When a laser beam is directed towards a surface, it bounces back and is recorded by the scanner. The lidar system can calculate the distance between the sensor and the ground by measuring the time it takes for the laser beam to return.


A drone lidar system consists of a lidar sensor mounted on a drone. The drone is flown over the area to be surveyed, and the lidar sensor collects data as it scans the surface. This data is then used to create a 3D map of the site.


There are several advantages of using drone lidar for land surveying:

  1. Speed: Drone lidar can cover immense land areas more quickly than traditional land surveying methods.
  2. Accuracy: Drone lidar can produce highly accurate 3D maps of the land surface, with a resolution of up to a few centimetres.
  3. Safety: Drone lidar eliminates the need for surveyors to physically access hazardous or difficult-to-reach terrain, such as steep slopes or unstable ground.
  4. Cost-effectiveness: Drone lidar can be more cost-effective than traditional land surveying methods, as it requires fewer personnel and equipment.

Applications of drone lidar in land surveying


Drone lidar can be used for a wide range of land surveying applications, including:

  1. Topographic mapping: Drone lidar can be used to create highly accurate topographic maps of the land surface, which can be used for urban planning, engineering, and construction projects.
  2. Environmental monitoring: Drone lidar can be used to monitor changes in the landscape, such as erosion, deforestation, and natural disasters.
  3. Archaeological mapping: Drone lidar can be used to map and document archaeological sites, allowing for a better understanding of the history and culture of an area.
  4. Land-use planning: Drone lidar can assess land-use suitability and inform land-use planning decisions.

Drone lidar is a powerful tool for land surveying, offering speed, accuracy, safety, and cost-effectiveness advantages over traditional land surveying methods. Its wide range of applications makes it a valuable tool for various industries, from engineering and construction to environmental monitoring and archaeology.


As technology evolves, drone lidar will likely become an increasingly important part of land surveying practices.


Drone LiDAR for land surveying can be safe if appropriate precautions are taken. Here are a few factors to consider:

  1. Regulations: Drone operators must follow local laws and regulations to ensure safe and legal drone operations. Regulations may include obtaining proper permits, certifications, or licenses and following specific operational procedures, such as keeping the drone within the operator’s line of sight and avoiding flying near airports, restricted airspace, or populated areas.
  2. Equipment: The drone, LiDAR system, and associated equipment must be well-maintained, regularly calibrated, and operated within manufacturer guidelines to avoid accidents and ensure accurate data collection.
  3. Environmental Conditions: Flying drones in adverse weather conditions, such as high winds or low visibility, can be dangerous. It is essential to monitor weather conditions and avoid flying in situations that may cause damage to the drone or disrupt data collection.
  4. Training: Drone pilots and operators should have proper training and experience to operate the drone and LiDAR equipment safely and effectively. It is also essential to have emergency procedures in place in case of equipment malfunction or other unexpected events.

By following these factors, drone LiDAR can be safe and effective in providing accurate and detailed data for land surveying applications.