Some Videos of the LiDAR Scans at Cliff

Sinan Abood, Mike Falkowski, and Steve Curelli calibrate the LiDAR scanner.

A few weeks ago I wrote a short post about LiDAR. This technology (Light Distance and Ranging) allows for precise mapping of topographical and structural features from the air, the ground, or even space. The idea behind LiDAR is that light (or more specifically, lasers) travel from a scanning device to the ground and then back to the unit. The LiDAR device can then calculate the distance the beam of light travelled as well as the time it took to return to the device, thereby providing data that can be used to create a 3D representation of the area being scanned.

Mapping inside the stamp mill's interior. Note the vegetation that can obstruct the scan.

In early May, a team of researchers from Michigan Tech lead by Dr. Michael Falkowski of the School of Forestry Resources and Environmental Sciences and including myself and fellow students Sinan Abood and Stephen Curelli, brought a ground-based LiDAR device out to Cliff to see how effective a scan would be.

Due to the timing of the scans (this took place before the field school, and clearing of vegetation, began) and weather, our choices for scanning locations were limited. We chose to set up the device in two locations: at the No. 4 Shaft rock piles located above the bluff to try out a landscape scan, and inside the stamp mill’s boiler house for an interior structural scan.

Once the LiDAR unit is put in place, it rotates 360 degrees while emitting light towards the target being mapped. At the same time a digital camera mounted on the LiDAR unit takes pictures in order to provide a color scheme to match the “point data” created by the scan. This way the data can be processed to look almost identical to its real world target.

The No. 4 Shaft's steam stack.

Both scans are currently in the data processing phase but recently we were able to create two videos showing how the data can be used to create 3D representations of the data. Due to time, the scan of the No. 4 Shaft area has been narrowed down to focus on the steam stack that sits within a large rock pile. Compare it to the photo on the right. What you will notice is how well LiDAR picks up each individual stone as well as the leaves of the vegetation at the stack’s base.

The scan of the mill interior is obstructed somewhat by the trees and vegetation lying in and around the structure. With time, these obstructions can be removed from the point data but for this demonstration I think its valuable to see just how well the LiDAR picks up even the smallest detail.

The LiDAR crew.

Here are video animations of two structures at Cliff using LiDAR technology from our YouTube site.

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About Sean Gohman

Currently a PhD Degree seeking student in the Michigan Tech University's Industrial Heritage and Archaeology program.

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