9845 Rate this article:

Harris is Taking Geiger-Mode LiDAR to the Esri® User Conference!

Patrick Collins

Harris has recently released IntelliEarth™Geiger-Mode LiDAR: a new commercial industry standard in high resolution LiDAR datasets. Harris already has over 15 years of experience developing this type of sensor for the Department of Defense, and has only recently made this data available to the commercial industry.

Geiger-mode LiDAR offers several benefits over traditional linear-mode LiDAR. First off, it is flown at a much higher altitude than traditional LiDAR sensors, collecting data from altitudes up to 45,000 feet. This higher altitude creates a larger ground swath for the sensor, allowing the Geiger-mode LiDAR sensor to collect data up to ten times faster than traditional methods, with equal, if not better, point cloud density. As an example, a traditional sensor might collect 8 points per square meter at an altitude of 3,200 feet with a ground swath of 3,300 feet. In comparison, the Geiger-mode sensor can collect the same level of detail (8pts/m2) at an altitude of 27,000 feet and a ground swath of 16,000 feet. At an altitude of 18,000 feet, point cloud density goes up to 20pts/m2.

The higher altitude, improved point cloud density, greater ground swath, and increased ground speeds afforded by the Geiger-mode sensor means less time and resources will be spent collecting and extracting information from LiDAR.   

A LiDAR Analyst's Dream

Those of us who are users of ENVI LiDAR are very excited about this new commercially available technology as it greatly increases our ability to extract information from the LiDAR point cloud. For anyone who's ever been at the mercy of whatever LiDAR is available over their area of interest, the density of the point clouds captured with this sensor are stunning, to say the least.

Not only does Geiger-mode perform better with the automated ENVI LiDAR feature extraction tasks like buildings, trees, power lines, and elevation data, it also makes it easier to extract custom objects from the point cloud using IDL and the ENVI LiDAR API. In this sense, the availability of Geiger-mode LiDAR to commercial industries will greatly evolve the types of information we're able to pull from point clouds and  will help the industry develop new solutions that aren't available with current LiDAR collection methodologies.

Along with the benefits of Geiger-mode LiDAR come new challenges. One of the big ones facing even those using traditional LiDAR sensors is the large size of the datasets. With increased point cloud fidelity comes larger datasets, and it can be difficult for businesses to visualize, share, and extract information from the data. For enterprises with this type of problem, the ENVI 3D Web Client can provide an easy way to catalog and store huge point clouds and disseminate them via the internet. This can eliminate the need to pass large LiDAR datasets around and allows LiDAR extraction tasks to be run on large servers as opposed to small desktop computers. This also means that businesses can expose the visualization and extraction of features from LiDAR data to end users in a cloud environment. 


We'll have plenty of Geiger LiDAR data and tools to check out at this year's Esri International User Conference. Stop by booth 1417 to see a demonstration and talk about how you can take advantage of this newly available LiDAR modality.