By: Brian Mayfield, CP, GISP, SP, GIS, President & CEO

Earlier this year, Sean Higgins (SPAR 3D Editor) published his interview with RIEGL’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Dr. Andrews Ulrich, which focused on the future of aerial Lidar. The interview was conducted during the development of SPAR3D’s “The Future of Aerial LiDAR” report, which is free to download. The interview touched on a few very important topics that will be reviewed at this year’s ILMF conference – most notably, will technologies like Geiger and SPL (Single Photon Lidar) replace conventional technologies.

Like Dr. Ulrich points out, neither Geiger and SPL are new technologies. They have been utilized heavily in parts of the world where vegetation is void and flying at night is ideal due to the threat of enemy combatants. There is no question that the current manufacturers of this technology have advanced it further than anyone to date. But, can this technology meet the requirements of mature Lidar-based programs like FEMA’s RiskMAP, USGS 3DEP and NOAA’s Digital Coast? Of the two technologies, I think Geiger is more “market-ready” but SPL has the longer-term capability of meeting the needs of these programs.

What I find most interesting is the needs of those programs are already being met by the so-called “conventional” technologies at prices much lower than what Geiger or SPL can offer. It is true that the technologies offer differences, such as increased point density, when compared to conventional technologies. However, our clients must be willing to change their requirements in areas with consistent vegetation, like stream or river banks. ILMF should offer the profession with a glimpse of how these sensors are currently performing and what is next for the manufacturers.

To read the full SPAR3D interview with Dr. Ulrich, click here.