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Drone Based LiDAR

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3DroneMapping has been in the business of supplying high accuracy, drone based LiDAR aerial surveys in Africa for the past 15 years. Its speciality lies in difficult to reach survey sites that are too large for conventional drone operators or financially unviable for manned aviation companies to undertake.

3DroneMpapping has invested heavily in terms of R&D and field hours over a range of projects in Africa to develop its own long range drones and combines these with the latest in LiDAR technology.


Pointcloud from LiDAR drone


Using a multiple return laser scanner, terrain is measured at a rate of over 720 000 times a second to produce a very dense pointcloud. The density of the pointcloud as well as small beam divergence allows laser pulses to penetrate small gaps in the vegetation cover to target and measure ground levels. This allows us to "see" inside vegetation cover and be able to accurately contour a bare earth terrain model after classification. 

Our LiDAR units are capable of being deployed on a short range multirotor for very dense pointcloud mapping or on our large long range VTOL platforms for surveys up to 850km²


Using multiple stereo pairs, it is possible to generate orthophotos with true orthogonal projection. Compared to imagery captured by manned aircraft or satellite, orthophotos derived from a drone platforms tend to be clearer, more detailed and have a higher dynamic range. Since the camera is closer to the ground, detail in shade or shadows can be determined. This also allows for sharper images since less dust or pollution is "looked" through.

Orthomosaic from LiDAR drone
DTM from LiDAR drone


Generating Digital Surface and Terrain Models (DSM & DTM) from drone data can be quickly and accurately calculated via photogrammetric or LiDAR methods. Pointclouds can be classified into various categories that help distinguish terrain features. Ground levels are further refined by editing the DTM directly in a 3d environment and later decimated to reduce file sizes while retaining the accuracy and terrain features.

From DTM, contours, cross-sections and other data outputs can be calculated.



3DroneMapping's fleet is custom built for African conditions. These modifications have carefully been considered after years of research and development in actual field conditions. These are shipped from project to project and contain their own field maintenance equipment for any onsite repairs. 

VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) fixed wing drones are typically used for larger areas (between 500ha and 80 000ha) while multirotor platforms are more suited for smaller surveys (<500ha).

All aircraft carry a LiDAR scanner and RGB imager as standard payload and are capable of high rate INS trajectory post-processing.

VTOL drone doing a LiDAR aerial survey
VTOL drone doing a LiDAR aerial survey
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VTOL drone doing a LiDAR aerial survey in Gabon
VTOL drone doing a LiDAR aerial survey
VTOL drone doing a LiDAR aerial survey


LiDAR survey in jungle
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KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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