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Photogrammetry vs. LIDAR

Photogrammetry vs. LIDAR

Photogrammetry and LIDAR are two different methods of acquiring spatial data, and they have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Photogrammetry is the process of using photographs to measure and map physical objects and environments. It involves the use of specialized software to extract measurements and create 3D models from photographs taken from different angles. This method is relatively inexpensive and can be performed with consumer-grade cameras or drones. However, photogrammetry requires clear images and can be affected by changing light conditions, making it less accurate in some situations.

LIDAR, on the other hand, stands for “Light Detection and Ranging” and uses laser beams to measure distances to surfaces. LIDAR can generate highly accurate 3D maps with precise measurements, even in low-light conditions. It can also capture data through vegetation, making it ideal for mapping forests or other environments with dense vegetation. However, LIDAR technology is more expensive than photogrammetry, and the equipment used can be heavy and require specialized training.

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When should I use lidar instead of photogrammetry?

LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is generally preferred over photogrammetry in the following situations:

  1. Complex and/or vegetated environments: LIDAR can penetrate through vegetation and can capture 3D data even in complex terrains, such as forests, where photogrammetry may struggle due to the obstruction caused by the leaves and branches.
  2. Need for high accuracy: LIDAR is a highly accurate method of capturing 3D data, making it ideal for applications that require precise measurements, such as engineering or infrastructure projects.
  3. Poor lighting conditions: LIDAR technology is less reliant on lighting conditions than photogrammetry. It can capture data in low-light conditions or even in complete darkness, making it ideal for applications such as underground mapping or surveying at night.
  4. Large-scale projects: LIDAR can cover large areas quickly and efficiently, making it ideal for projects that require a lot of ground to be covered in a short amount of time. Photogrammetry may require more time and resources to cover the same area.
  5. Surveying infrastructure: LIDAR can accurately measure the height and position of power lines, poles, and other infrastructure, making it a preferred method for utilities and transportation companies.
  6. Mapping terrain for flood or landslide prediction: LIDAR can capture high-resolution topographic data of terrain, which is essential for mapping areas that are prone to flooding or landslides. The 3D data captured by LIDAR can be used to create detailed models that help predict potential risks.
  7. Autonomous vehicle navigation: LIDAR is a vital technology for self-driving cars, drones, and other autonomous vehicles. It provides real-time information on the environment and can accurately detect obstacles, making it a critical safety feature for autonomous navigation.
  8. Archaeological research: LIDAR is used to uncover ancient sites and ruins hidden beneath dense vegetation or other obstructions. LIDAR can penetrate through tree canopies and dense foliage, revealing details about the topography of the land that may be otherwise hidden from view.
  9. Forest management: LIDAR can be used to estimate the height and biomass of trees, which is essential for forest management and carbon storage estimates. It can also help identify areas with high wildfire risk and aid in post-wildfire recovery efforts.

Further Reading