Drone Company Maps Tumon with Lasers
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One week and over $100,000 worth of equipment later, a local drone company, 2cofly (pronounced E-CO-FLY), conducts Guam’s first drone-based LiDAR scan of the Tumon Village! This scan totals nearly 1,000 acres that digitized reality (Tumon) into a highly dense, accurate, and colorized 3D Point Cloud. This data is so dense that it actually looks like a 3D mesh model! As this was a research project in partnership with the NASA Guam Space Grant professional internship program, 2cofly will make this data publicly available for everyone and anyone to use and benefit from.
The people behind the project
2cofly is a drone service and education provider based in Guam. 2cofly specializes in utilizing drone technology in the construction industry where they offer services like aerial photogrammetry, LiDAR topographic mapping, aerial inspections and more.
Drone technology is simply amazing. It brings massive efficiencies to the workplace. Using drones, you're able to do a job faster, cheaper, better, and safer.
- Dong Won Lee, 2cofly
Let's take a look at the most basic use of drones - photography. Taking regular photos on the ground with your phone across a large construction site is extremely inefficient and unsafe. Not only will this take long - trekking through a dangerous construction site filled with loads of heavy equipment - but the pictures themselves wouldn't reveal too much information and perspective; it's a very manual process.
With drones, you can stay in one, safe location and fly over the construction site in a matter of minutes. Because you're flying high and above the construction site, you're getting a wider perspective from above, revealing so much more information. Best of all, you can use GPS way points to take photos and videos from a precise location on a weekly basis so that you can compare the data over time.
To take it a step further, combining this amazing technology with software and programming, we are able to scale drone operations and create a whole new set of deliverables. Instead of taking one photograph, we can take a series of overlapping photos in a grid-like pattern, stitch them all together and produce a unified image called an Orthomosaic Map. We can create 3D point clouds and generate contour lines and Digital Elevation Model. This is also known as the science of photogrammetry.
Photogrammetry is great, but it comes with it's fair share of limitations. Photogrammetry is a passive remote sensing methodology. When you take a photograph, you're not actively shooting out anything, so you're only able to "map what you can see." LiDAR sensing on the other hand is an active sensor. It's actively shooting out laser pulses (240,000 pulses PER SECOND with three returns). Because it's an active sensor with multiple return technology, we can map at night and gather data even underneath dense vegetation.
But what makes our Tumon LiDAR data truly unique is we combined the science of photogrammetry with LiDAR sensing; we used two sensors to output our unified dataset. How it works is, we use our LiDAR sensor to output extremely dense 3D point clouds (hundred of millions of points that has X, Y and Z information), and use the RGB sensor to colorize the point clouds. In the end, we are left with amazing point cloud data that has X, Y, Z and RGB information.
The reason drone technology is so revolutionary and disruptive is because it allows us to do things we previously were never able to do.