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Using LiDAR to See in 3D

Updated: Jun 24

Learn more about the implications of technology in the field

As an Ag-centric data analytics company, our team is constantly looking for new and improved implications of technology helping growers to save time, labor, and money. One of our most useful and fascinating tools to use is LiDAR 3D mapping. LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing tool that uses light in the form of pulsed lasers to the Earth. The LiDAR instrument/satellite measures distances between objects by illuminating them with light and measuring the reflection with a sensor. LiDAR can be utilized through satellites, land bound instruments, and even mobile. In the next sections the reader will be presented with a few different types or instruments for growers to actually use LiDAR with, along with potential pros and cons.


Mapping your land:

One of the main implications for growers is being able to produce 3D elevation maps of a grower's land and crops. The information acquired from such a precise 3D model of a grower's land will allow them to quickly see which area's are affected by weather the most, inevitably informing them which areas need water and fertilizer the most. In the long run this can save growers time, money, and expenses on labor due to precisely locating more challenging areas of the crop.


Autonomous Vehicles:

Autonomous Vehicles are unmanned vehicles that have a variety of uses and implications discussed in a previous blog created by our innov8.ag team, "Ag Tech reacting to labor shortages." Autonomous vehicles actually use a LiDAR sensor placed typically in the front or on top of the vehicle. In this case LiDAR acts as an all seeing eye for the driverless vehicle, giving the vehicle the ability to see in all directions with precise calculations of distances between objects. There are also applications for semi-autonomous vehicles where LiDAR assists the driver; a great example of this is adaptive cruise control on newer cars - where the car automatically manages following distance to the vehicle ahead.


Advantages:

• Capable of collecting elevation data in dense areas

• Can be used day and night

• Can be integrated with other data sources

• Not affected by most weather

• Data can be collected quickly with high accuracy

• Can be cheap to use for larger areas


Disadvantages:

• More expensive for smaller locations

• Ineffective during rain or low level clouds

• Very large data sets that are hard for the individual to interpret

• Requires skill data analysts

• Laser beams may be harmful to human eyes


As the reader can see, the need for a skilled data analyst is required to interpret such large amounts of data given by the use of LiDAR. That's where innov8.ag comes in, with our skilled team of data analysts & university partnerships, our company has more than just the ability to decipher these confusing sets of data; we are here to give growers recommendations and insights on the best innovative ways to improve their farms and orchards. We take our insights very seriously as our company is primarily functioning to empower these growers with the data provided them through the use of advanced technology and machine learning techniques.


In an upcoming post, we'll detail more about a LiDAR-equipped sprayer we're using in our Smart Orchard, and the implications and impact for the grower. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media for the latest.



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