Stratus has been working on the LiDAR payload for about a year. LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) is the latest technology in terrain mapping. It can produce extremely high definition DEM maps as well as 3D images of buildings and other objects.
The instrument consists of many pairs of lasers which reflect off the surface of the ground or objects. The LiDAR sensor is able to measure the distance to a target as well as other characteristics of the target. The result is a 3D collection of points that can be used to produce a variety of maps and data. Our system utilizes our on-board RTK-GPS and IMU to accurately map each point in 3D space.
(click for a larger view)
In addition to a highly accurate 3D surface model we can also differntiate between the ground surface and vegetation or buildings. Through the use of GIS software we can produce maps without vegetation (bare earth) and high resoltion DEM maps.
Raw LiDAR data can be expressed in different forms. Below is a point cloud colored by height,
Below is a photo of our LiDAR unit mounted on the Venturer-0 UAV (click for a larger view),