3D laser scanning, also known as laser scanning or LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), is a technology that uses laser beams to capture precise three-dimensional (3D) information about the shape, size, and spatial characteristics of objects or environments. The process is a non-contact, highly accurate technology which uses a tripod mounted system, like a traditional survey device. Laser scanners send out up to a million laser beams a second, obtaining a full 360° scan of the object.
Laser scanning works through emitting a laser beam towards the object, target or environment, when this hits the surface and reflects it back to the scanner’s sensor. The scanner measures the time it takes for the laser pulse to travel to the object and return. This is known as time-of-flight measurement. By knowing the speed of light, the scanner precisely calculates the distance from itself to the object or surface being scanned. To comprehensively capture an entire site, structure, or environment, the scanner meticulously conducts thousands or even millions of these measurements from assorted angles and positions. The scanner can be manually moved or affixed to a vehicle for more extensive scanning tasks.
This collected data is then combined to create a 3D point cloud, which is a collection of 3D points in space that represent the surface of the scanned object or environment. Each individual point within the point cloud possesses XYZ coordinates, denoting its precise spatial location in three dimensions. Once this data is meticulously processed and registered within specialised software, such as Leica Cyclone Core or 360, it undergoes alignment, through analysis and refinement, to eliminate unwanted elements such as reflection, people or noise.
Once the data has been accurately processed, it becomes a valuable resource for generating 3D building models, visualisations, and meticulous measurements of the surveyed area. This information finds extensive utility across a diverse array of fields, including engineering, architecture, archaeology, geology and manufacturing. It serves as a pivotal asset for purposes ranging from design and analysis to documentation and preservation.
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