3D Laser Scanning Introduction

Select a topic below to learn more.  

What is Laser Scanning?

3D Laser Scanning captures spatial data by the use of laser light .  The shape, position and spatial locations of objects are recorded by millions of points, each with a latitude, longitude and elevation (XYZ) coordinate.  

For most situations, a single scan will not produce a complete data set of the subject or area.  Multiple scans from different positions are required to gather data from all sides of the subject. The multiple point clouds then have to be processed, or registered, to each other and then combined into a complete model space.



LIDAR is an acronym for Light Detection and Ranging. The acronym is akin to common terms like RADAR and SONAR because it inherently belongs to the same family of technologies. 


RADAR bounces radio waves off of an object and analyzes the returning waves. SONAR does the same with sound waves. LIDAR is the next logical step in technological evolution.


LIDAR is a process of emitting laser light at a target, and analyzing the returns by calculating the time of flight of the beam. The wave length of laser light and the number of shots that can be taken in a split second make precise measurements of stationary objects, and speeds of moving objects easily obtainable and cost effective.


3D Imaging is a growing field of study, particularly in the engineering and surveying fields. LIDAR has many applications which include determining volumes of stockpiled rock and aggregate, the production of accurate topographical maps for large areas of land, and the production of as-built drawings when no such drawings exist.


The level of detail in conventional land surveys is much less than that of scan data.  Most topographical surveys collected with GPS usually give a single point with an XYZ coordinate anywhere from 10-50 feet apart. LIDAR gives point coordinates at a spacing of less than an inch apart. 


On any given scan, you have the ability to retrieve coordinates for MILLIONS of points. Time and time again, the data collected has proven to be beneficial to our clients. The scanner's ability to see everything within its line of sight and create a point cloud has revolutionized spatial data collection.