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The Battle of Mobile Lidar Scanners

When it comes to Mobile Laser Scanning (MLS), there are many tools available on the market. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to utilize some of the latest and greatest MLS technologies at Candrone. MLS solutions offer great flexibility in areas where it can be hard to fly a drone (ie. indoors or through GPS denied environments). In this article, we will be focusing on three MLS systems, all of which have been put through extensive field testing by our team; the BLK2GO from Leica, Hovermap from Emesent, and the C50 Libackpack from Green Valley International. 

 


All three systems use SLAM technology to build 3D representations of our environment. Still, each system has its own "secret sauce" when it comes to the SLAM matching algorithm's backend, which is a major differentiating feature between the scanners. After testing each system in various environments (forest, urban, open space, and indoors), we clearly understand each system's capabilities. 

Leica BLK2GO
The BLK2GO system has a sleek and compact hand-held design that combines two lidar sensors (one with 360-degrees horizontal Field of view (FOV) and a 270-degree vertical FOV). While its intended purpose is geared towards indoor environments (see table 1 for best suited applications), it performs exceptionally well outdoors as well. It isn't as durable in winter conditions as the other units, but it sure packs together some quality, colorized point-cloud data with a robust SLAM algorithm. Another bonus is the ease of use on this unit. You can grab it and scan your building without your arm cramping from fatigue.  As you can see from our outdoor test, the crisp alignment along the curb and the detail captured in the tree branches is a great testament to the BLK2GO’s strengths.  

BLK2GO colorized point cloud lidar
BLK2GO capturing a sidewalk path
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Emesent Hovermap The Hovermap comes in on top with its ease of use, durability, and SLAM algorithm, all getting top scores from our tests. In our forested test, we weaved through a dense westcoast forest and the Hovermap was able to stitch together a tightly aligned point cloud even across a large scan area. For this reason, the Hovermap is a great tool for applications such as forestry and mining. From extracting DBH and tree height to mapping an underground mine, the Hovermap is very versatile in its applications.
While both the Hovermap and the Libackpack C50 have Velodyne-16 Lidar sensor hardware, they have different SLAM algorithms that ultimately determine the system's ability to create accurate datasets. The Hovermap LiDAR sensor gimbal mechanically spins the lidar head to achieve a 360-degree FOV. The only minor issue we had with the Hovermap was how the power source did not clip onto the system design, so you have to either hold it or try to fit it in your pocket as you walk. Furthermore, the Hovermap's versatile mounting options can be used on a drone to autonomously navigate your drone through GPS-denied environments!
Hovermap RGB lidar scan
Hovermap capturing inside of a warehouse
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GVI LiBackpack C50
The LiBackpack as its name implies is worn as a backpack with the lidar head mounted on top or used as a wand, making it easy for the operator to walk through and scan the environment. We found that the C50 is a durable unit for indoor/outdoor where it could cover large areas quickly. We like that the C50 has a live stream feature that helps you visualize your data and walking trajectory in real-time.
Libackpack lidar scan
LiBackpack C50 capturing a city park
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Table 1: 
BLK2GO LiBackpack C50 Hovermap
Mobility Handheld Backpack / Detachable wand Handheld or backpack or drone
Scan rate 420,000 pulses/s 300,000 pulses/sec 300,000 pulses/sec
Accuracy 6-15 mm ±30mm

±20 mm in general environments

±15mm in typical underground and indoor environments

±5mm for close range scanning

Range 25m 100m  100m 
Operating temperature +5 to +40 °C −10° to +60°C 0 to +50°C 
Weight 0.775kg 6.6 kg 1.8 kg
Applications Real estate professionals, Film location scouts, VFX producers, Archeology, Architecture Urban planning, construction, forestry Forestry, mining, construction warehouse inventory. 
Our testing In motion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AOHqAoLubQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IK0dXRHAbag https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UOVxczpnec

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