Think 3D, Applanix combine on UAV-based airborne lidar mapping

November 27, 2017  - By

The Think 3D Stormbee multicopter integrated with Trimble’s AP15 provides efficiency, accuracy and performance for lidar surveys from unmanned vehicles.

Historically, lidar-based aerial surveys were impractical for all but the largest unmanned systems. Because of Applanix’ development of small, lightweight and low-powered direct georeferencing solutions, airborne lidar scans from small drones are now practical, cost-effective, highly accurate and excellent options for lidar surveys, according to the company.

The Stormbee is a directly georeferenced UAV lidar solution for 3D industrial mapping applications, designed to collect survey grade spatial data in a significantly more cost effective and efficient way than static lidar.


The Stormbee, a Faro Focus 130 laser scanner, and the AP15.

Stormbee’s 3D mapping technologies include Faro’s Focus 130 laser scanner, Trimble’s AP15 high performance GNSS/inertial receiver, Applanix’s POSPac UAV GNSS/inertial post-processing software and Stormbee’s proprietary Beeflex software for lidar point cloud generation.

Industrial applications (GNSS-denied environments) pose unique challenges for laser scanning using traditional static systems, due to obstructions and poor signal environments. These issues lead to increased costs and operational time.

By using the high-performance Trimble AP15 with two antenna and the Applanix post-processing software (POSPac MMS) for georeferencing the lidar data, Stormbee provides an accurate real-time and post-mission solution for all motion variables.

Applanix has brought together its decades of experience in multi-frequency, multi-constellation Differential GNSS and inertial based positioning and orientation with the best in small-form factor hardware and powerful software, to produce a DG solution for professional aerial mapping on UAVs.

With a system delivering better than 5-cm accuracy (real mean squared) and high resolution, Stormbee and Applanix offer 3D detail from a platform moving at speeds up to 15 meters per second. The Stormbee leverages Applanix’s decades of experience in direct georeferencing of lidar systems to collect the most accurate 3D data.

Benefits of the system:

  • compact, easy-to-operate and cost-effective
  • centimeter-level mobile positioning accuracy for 3D mapping products
  • improved productivity, with optimized workflow from data capture to georeferenced point cloud generation
  • superior visualization: Lidar scanners provide more accurate information of structures than camera technologies

Think 3D, a Belgian company, is a 3D scanning company for many industrial applications including those in the beverage, steel, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and tank terminals industries. Think3D helps companies make changes to their installations by providing a full 3D CAD model of their installation.

Stormbee to date has proven to be effective in many industries including mining, engineering, dredging, forensics, universities and survey.

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