LIDAR is a fairly new application that is used to collect data of the earth. LIDAR data is most commonly collected from an airborne system. Collecting data of the earth’s surfaces, including shorelines, mountains, lakes, rivers, oceans and land is faster and easier than ever before. And it’s because of this that it comes to no surprise that LIDAR is one of the most popular ways to obtain GIS data.

Not many people are comfortable with LIDAR yet, and it’s mainly because it is a new and unconventional way of learning about the earth’s surfaces. LIDAR collects its data using a laser. When the LIDAR is airborne, a laser will point at a targeted spot on the ground. Once the laser hits the targeted area on the ground, the beam of light reflects the surface that it encounters. Along with a laser, a sensor is used. This sensor’s job is to record the reflected light. Reflected light is measured to find a range, and that is what LIDAR is all about. Once we have the range data, we’ll combine that with the orientation data that we generated from an IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit). The IMU system is used to calibrate angles of the land, as well as provide a detail-rich group of elevation points. Each elevation that is collected from the IMU correspond to a specific point on the earth’s surface in which the laser pulse is reflected. Data from both the IMU and LIDAR are combined to provide you with the answers you need from the earth’s surface.

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