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Acquiring ground topography data efficiently with UAV LiDAR

September 25, 2023

In recent years, advancements in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology have enabled the collection of accurate and rapid data for various applications. One such application is ground topography determination, crucial for a range of fields such as agriculture, urban planning, and environmental monitoring. This case study presents the utilization of the YellowScan Vx20-300 sensor on the IF1200A UAV to obtain ground topography data over a specific area.

Mission Challenge

Accurate ground topography data is essential for understanding terrain variations, water flow patterns, and landscape characteristics. Traditional ground survey methods can be time-consuming and may not cover large or inaccessible areas effectively. The challenge was to acquire high-resolution ground topography data swiftly and accurately, enabling efficient decision-making for various applications.


The Vx20-300 LiDAR solution was mounted on the IF1200A UAV for data acquisition. The UAV was programmed to fly at a velocity of 5 m/s and a height of 85 m, covering a designated area of 45,000 m². The sensor’s capabilities allowed for efficient data collection while minimizing flight time, which was essential to cover a substantial area within the 10-minute flight time.

The YellowScan Vx20-300 mounted with the IF1200A
The YellowScan Vx20-300 mounted with the IF1200A

Close-up of the YellowScan Vx20-300 mounted with the IF1200A
Close-up of the YellowScan Vx20-300

Mission Parameters

  • Flight Velocity: 5 m/s
  • Flight Height: 85 m
  • Flight Time: 10 minutes
  • Survey Area: 45,000 m²
  • Data Collection Process: Trajectory refinement, point cloud generation, strip adjustment, ground classification


The mission yielded highly successful results:

Swift Data Collection: The entire process, from trajectory refinement to ground classification, was completed in less than 30 minutes, thanks to the efficiency of the UAV and LiDAR system.

  • Accurate Ground Topography: The Vx20-300 sensor demonstrated excellent vegetation penetration capabilities, providing clear data on ground topography. This allowed for the creation of accurate DTMs, DSMs, and DHMs.
  • Quick Data Processing: The collected data was processed efficiently due to the use of rapid ground classification techniques. This enabled the generation of relevant models for analysis.
  • Real-world Applicability: The obtained ground topography data proved valuable for various applications, including urban planning, hydrological modeling, and landscape assessment.

In conclusion, the deployment of the YellowScan Vx20-300 LiDAR solution on the IF1200A UAV showcased the effectiveness of modern UAV technology in obtaining accurate and rapid ground topography data. The combination of quick data acquisition, sensor capabilities, and processing techniques highlights the potential for UAVs to revolutionise traditional survey methods in various industries.

LiDAR point-cloud of vegetation
LiDAR point cloud of vegetation

The YellowScan CloudStation software they provided was also very intuitive to use and made post-processing the data a breeze to get maximum value out of the point cloud models.

Casey Viera

Operations Fleet Manager – Inspired Flight

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