5 Reasons to select Routescene for your drone LiDAR system

Posted on April 29, 2021 in Accuracy

We understand it can be confusing when comparing the various UAV/ drone LiDAR systems available on the market to choose the one that’s best for you. Of course, it is important to compare and contrast the different technical specifications, as different requirements need different levels of accuracy, resolution and range. But how do you compare beyond the technical specifications to make your choice?

Customers tell us that the ability to access difficult terrain and produce high-resolution results quickly and effectively are key drivers for the adoption of the Routescene UAV LiDAR system. The advantages of our proven system are:

1. Superior vegetation penetration capabilities
2. Quality Assurance in-built
3. End to end solution saving you time and improving productivity
4. Confidence – reliable, proven products from experts
5. Comprehensive training and technical support

Routescene UAV LidarPod in flight

Routescene UAV LidarPod in flight whilst terrain mapping in Northern Canada

Interested and want to know more? Here’s our explanation and evidence for each Routescene advantage:

1. Superior vegetation penetration capabilities

The vast majority of survey and mapping projects require a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) to be achieved through vegetation or there is a need to identify and profile individual trees within forestry and woodland. How do you collect data through vegetation? LiDAR is the perfect technology for this. It can penetrate through vegetation providing data on the layers and the surface beneath whereas photogrammetry only captures the vegetation canopy.

Routescene’s drone High Specification LiDAR system excels at penetrating dense vegetation. First, let’s look at the hardware. The carefully selected array of sensors, which includes the Velodyne HDL-32 LiDAR scanner, enable this powerful performance. The Routescene High Specification UAV surveying system provides a much higher capability to penetrate dense vegetation than other drone LiDAR systems, for example, those incorporating the Velodyne Puck (VLP-16) or Quanergy M8. This is due to the number of lasers and the scan rate of the HDL-32. With 32 lasers, in dual return mode it achieves up to 1.4 million points per second, 2 to 3 times more than lower specification LiDAR sensors. The result is a very high-density point cloud, achieving up to 400 points per sq/m on the bare earth through dense vegetation, which delivers high-resolution feature definition in the final output.

Routescene LidarViewer of woodland at Sand Canyon, Colorado, USA

Now let’s consider the Lidar data processing software. Processing the huge volumes of raw LiDAR data captured can be a time-consuming task. Routescene’s drone mapping software, specifically developed to process, analyze and visualize 3D spatial data, offers an impressive toolkit to create outputs such as DEMs, DTMs and DSMs quickly and easily. For example, in one step with our automated “Bare Earth tool,” you can remove all non-ground points and reveal the ground surface.

Use case: Finding ancient dwellings through dense vegetation

Final bare earth terrain model of Sand Canyon which revealed previously undocumented structures

Bare earth model of Sand Canyon revealed previously undocumented structures through thick vegetation.

Identifying undiscovered 750-year-old structures in an ancestral Pueblo at Sand Canyon, Colorado, USA was a highlight of this project. Unseen to the naked eye, the Routescene drone LiDAR system, penetrated dense vegetation to show the Pueblo was more extensive than previously known. See more about the Sand Canyon archaeology use case.

2. Quality Assurance in-built

Why is Quality Assurance important? So you can verify the accuracy of and have confidence in the quality of your survey data. By implementing Quality Control across the complete survey process you will significantly increase the value of your data and your final outputs.

We’ve made it simple for you. We’ve considered every step in the process and applied our experience in Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) so that you achieve the best accuracy possible and improve efficiencies.

Fundamental to the Routescene system and to achieving Quality Assurance is a carefully thought through 6 step workflow. Spanning survey and project planning, data acquisition, data processing to the final outputs, this workflow is a set of orchestrated and repeatable procedures and processes, so every survey and the subsequent data analysis is undertaken in a systematic, streamlined way. This ensures you achieve the best possible outcomes, which are validated, every time.


Specific Quality Assurance features built-in to this workflow include real-time in-flight monitoring of the data being collected during the entire drone survey using our QA Monitor application; UHF radio telemetry to ensure real-time QA is reliable even when a long distance from the Ground Station; our desktop-based data processing software is field-deployable (no need for internet access/cloud data upload which can be difficult in the field) to enable preliminary inspection of the raw LiDAR data on-site; specially designed Ground Control Targets for boresight alignment and to determine absolute accuracy, and finally you can automatically generate a Quality Assurance Report to ASPRS standards to verify your results.

Routescene UAV LiDAR Ground Control Targets

Routescene Ground Control Targets to determine absolute accuracy and for boresight alignment

Use case: Inspection of transmission lines

Rekon Solutions Routescene UAV LiDAR Power lines case study

Rekon Solutions team surveying with their Routescene UAV LiDAR system

Canadian-based customer, Rekon Solutions Inc, discusses the richness of data achieved and the cost-effectiveness of UAV LiDAR powerline inspections. Rekon performed conductor, vegetation and ground clearance inspections. Read the interview and watch the video.

3. End to end solution saving you time and improving productivity

Integration of the component parts of a drone LiDAR system takes time and money, it’s a complex task requiring specialist knowledge. Our end-to-end solution is literally that. We’ve thought through everything so you don’t have to. It’s tried, tested and ready for immediate use. Let’s take a closer look at what’s included…

a) The hardware suite

The robustly engineered 3D mapping sensor, the Routescene LidarPod, is a self-contained unit including an internal GNSS/INS, data storage and radio telemetry. It is portable, easy to deploy, it eliminates user error as there is no assembly, and the minimal number of external connectors significantly reduces the risk of failure.

Routescene UAV LiDAR survey and mapping system

The Routescene LidarPod preparing for take-off

Our Ground Station transmits RTK corrections to the LidarPod and logs the data for subsequent post-processing; you can opt for our Ground Control Targets to establish ground control; Pelican cases to protect the equipment during transportation.

b) UAV integration

Designed for easy integration on any rotary UAV capable of lifting between a 2.0kg (4.4lbs) and 3.3kg (7.3lbs) payload depending on the LiDAR system option selected. The lightweight carbon fiber vibration-damping mounting kit has been specially designed to reduce vibration from the UAV and for ease of use.

c) The software

Data processing is the biggest challenge of any LiDAR survey and efficient data processing is crucial to deliver results in a timely and cost-effective way. Unfortunately, most GIS and CAD packages are unable to cope with the sheer volume of data collected, resulting in data cleaning and analysis being performed across a number of software packages. This has a consequence – every time you convert and export a file not only does it take time but you lose information. It’s expensive purchasing and becoming familiar with the many different software packages too.

Routescene’s processing software removes these problems. Using the rich toolkit of pre-developed filters you can clean and analyze all your raw LiDAR data in one software package. You achieve a really clean dataset and keep the quality and resolution of the data. You can create repeatable workflows to ensure consistency, to compare and contrast multiple datasets and repeated surveys over time. With this consistency, you can measure quality.

d) Even the tool kit is included

Have you ever experienced delays to projects through basic tools missing or parts failing and you have no spares? We’ve thought of everything you can possibly need to keep your project on schedule.

e) Conversion for mobile mapping

To maximize the use of your UAV LiDAR system you can transform it into a Mobile Mapping system with our vehicle upgrade kit.

Use case: Mapping Arctic tundra system for global climate model predictions

Landing pad with UAV LiDAR Arctic Tundra

The team all set up for UAV LiDAR surveying in the Arctic Tundra

To understand the impact of climate change on the landscape Los Alamos National Laboratory deployed the Routescene UAV LiDAR system in a remote part of Alaska, USA. This ongoing project is part of the Department of Energy’s Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments (NGEE). Resilience, efficiency and safety were best practice learnings from the first expedition to inform and improve future work.

See more about this case study where the Routescene UAV LiDAR system was used in remote and challenging locations to map the Arctic tundra.

4. Confidence – reliable, proven products from experts

You’re about to invest in specialist equipment and software and you want to be sure you make the right decision. Receiving practical, knowledgeable advice from experienced people is important. Ask questions beyond the technical specification. How does the system really perform? What case studies and evidence can they provide? Talk through their training and customer support. Get familiar with their plans for the future development of their products. Talk to their customers. You want facts to make an informed decision.

The Routescene drone LiDAR system has been created by surveyors for professionals. We understand our customer’s needs and have applied 30 years’ experience across surveying, LiDAR, GIS, dynamic data capture and data management to develop our integrated solution. We design and create powerful 3D LiDAR mapping solutions so you can use 3D spatial data to make informed decisions. Our survey-grade end-to-end systems and products solve specific industry problems, save time, improve efficiencies and increase productivity.

Honesty and integrity are important to us. We tell you how it is. We continually talk with and encourage feedback from all our customers to drive improvement across our product range.

Use case: Radiation hotspots at Chernobyl

Routescene UAV LiDAR system flying at Chernobyl

Routescene UAV LiDAR system in flight over Red Forest next to Chernobyl nuclear power station

The Routescene drone LiDAR solution was used to create DTMs of specific areas of interest within the Red Forest close to Chernobyl. This was part of a study by the National Centre for Nuclear Robotics to map areas of radiation hotspots close to the nuclear reactor site.

Routescene UAV LiDAR point clouds Chernobyl

Removing vegetation with Routescene LidarViwer Pro software to create a bare earth model

See more about this use case to map areas of the Red Forest next to Chernobyl.


5. Comprehensive training and technical support

Once you’ve purchased a system you need in-depth training and support to deploy quickly and realize a return on your investment. We’ve worked in drone LiDAR since 2013 and we work closely with customers so they can benefit from our knowledge and experience. Our aim is to accelerate our customer’s learning, so they can undertake surveys and produce optimal results with a high level of confidence in as short a time as possible.

We excel in our customer-specific training delivery. Our comprehensive training includes theory and practical based sessions to ensure you gain the most from your drone LiDAR system. Our training course covers everything you need from the assembly of the equipment, operation of the system in the field, Quality Control and best practice for data processing using our software.

Routescene has been very supportive in getting us started with such a complex piece of equipment and ensuring we got off the ground quickly. It was only a couple of test and learning flights before we started collecting the data we required, so a very short set up and training time was required.”

Kieran Wood, Bristol University/ NCNR

Our support to you goes far beyond your initial purchase and training. Through our Annual Support and Maintenance Agreements, you have direct access to expert support, including project support which customers find valuable on those first tentative surveys. We commit to providing you with the highest level of service and we enable this through our established US and UK offices serving our customers across different time zones.

Our experience with the team at Routescene has been nothing short of excellent. They have been there from day one with outstanding help and support, helping us through the process as we grew our team’s skills to become competent and efficient using LidarViewer to post-process data.”

Vashaun Henderson, Rekon Solutions, British Columbia, Canada

See more about Routescene training and technical support 


In summary

Consider your applications and the results you need carefully. Projects requiring clean, high-resolution outputs are a perfect fit for us. Particularly if you need to verify accuracy and achieve consistent results time and time again, our workflow and Quality Assurance enables this. Our high specification system handles sites covered with dense vegetation, woodland or forestry with ease. Hard to reach, dangerous or hostile environments such as steep slopes, landslides and floodplains are our sweet spots. For example, our system is used for natural resources management and remediation, forestry management, environmental and conservation, and utilities vegetation management.