Delair have introduced the next generation of its high-performance Delair DT26X LiDAR UAV, the industry’s first long-range fixed wing drone to combine highly accurate Light Distance and Ranging (LiDAR) sensing capabilities with an integrated high resolution RGB (red, green, blue) camera.

The technology, which dramatically increasing the precision, efficiency and cost effectiveness of surveying and 3D mapping is ideally suited to power line inspection, according to a statement from the Toulouse-headquartered company.
Delair DT26X LiDAR UAV drone
Details of the new model, which builds on Delair’s proven expertise in long distance, BVLOS UAV operations, were revealed at the International Lidar Mapping Forum, in Denver.

Aerial-based LiDAR allows for extremely detailed and accurate collection of elevation data of the ground, even in large and vegetated areas, but is typically performed with specialized, single function platforms or expensive manned aircraft surveys with long lead times.

Camera-enabled drones offer a complementary solution for collecting imagery that can augment the LiDAR-based models. Most projects therefore require multiple mapping flights and separate UAVs, with initial missions using LiDAR sensors and subsequent flights equipped with RGB-cameras to enhance the digital rendering.

The Delair DT26X LiDAR’s combined payload of a lightweight sensor and integrated camera allows the acquisition of LiDAR and photogrammetry data in a single flight, which drastically reduces cost and immediately provides an extremely detailed digital model of the inspected assets. The LiDAR sensor is specifically designed for UAV use, adding little weight or bulk to the Delair frame. The fully-integrated smart RGB camera enables real-time camera sensor control and in-flight photo review with automated quality checks.

The new platform delivers increased accuracy in 3D mapping and modeling of terrain and corridors in challenging physical environments (e.g. mountainous, inaccessible by road or foot, dense vegetation) and with difficult visibility, lighting or weighting conditions. Its long range flying capabilities – allowing coverage of up to 2,400 square acres, communication range of 30 kilometers and 100 minutes of flight time –  improve the efficiency of aerial mapping operations over large areas. As a result, the Delair DT26X LiDAR is well suited for uses such as environmental and land surveys, forestry monitoring, infrastructure surveillance, powerline and pipeline inspections, and road and rail construction.

“The combination of a sophisticated LiDAR sensor and an industrial grade RGB camera removes the ‘either/or’ decision of choosing between LiDAR and imagery data acquisition for geospatial professionals. This is the most versatile and cost-effective UAV solution for large area, long range mapping and surveying where accuracy and detail are required,” said Chase Fly, Geospatial Product Manager at Delair.

“It provides the precision and visibility required by the most demanding use cases and allows data acquisition and advanced digitization not possible through terrain-based or satellite 3D mapping techniques, or with limited short-range UAVs. With this configuration, users can acquire all the data required for a colorized point cloud from a single flight, which eases the point cloud classification process back in the office, saving significant time and money.”

The product is also the first fixed wing UAV to incorporate the new RIEGL miniVUX-1DL LiDAR sensor, a specially designed device for the needs of UAV use. The small form factor sensor includes a downward looking and optimized field of view specifically geared for corridor mapping tasks. The wedge prism scanner construction produces a field of view of 46°, and the circular scan pattern provides a very high point density and point distribution.

It offers a high scan speed of up to 150 scans/sec and a measurement rate of up to 100,000 measurements/sec. It is effective in penetrating poor lighting conditions or dense foliage. The LiDAR sensor makes use of RIEGL’s unique Waveform-LiDAR technology, allowing echo digitization