Over the past six months or so the Altus team have been integrating a wide range of different sensors to our ORC VTOL systems, and to the ORC2 electric helicopter system in particular. We have been mounting Lidar systems from many different providers and so I've taken the opportunity to show and tell with some of them here. The versatility and payload capacity of the ORC2 system is such that despite a surprisingly wide range of weights and configurations, we have successfully integrated each unique Lidar unit in a satisfactory way and enabled our customers to get out and go scanning.
In order of earliest mounted to most recent, featured below we have units from Lidar USA, Riegl, Phoenix Lidar and Lidar Swiss.
Each customer has their own particular requirements for their Altus system and their respective Lidar scanner, but overwhelmingly they have a need to quickly collect and deliver highly accurate spatial data for better decision making. Inspection, mapping, construction and engineering works are just some of the specific applications, but a lightweight, quickly deployable system such as the ORC2 allows for an ever expanding list of uses.
As a regular integrator (and often user of Lidar data ourselves), we have seen steady improvement in made-for-UAV Lidar technology, and it is our customers, and especially their customers, who are reaping the benefits. Inertial system developments, GPS correction applications and multiple calibrated sensor options are ever improving and providing better return on investment than before.
What we've discovered for the potential Lidar purchaser, is that it pays to take a good look at your scanning requirements when making a selection, and to compare what is included in the package. Consider the hardware but also include software and licenses in your due diligence. Does the package come with everything you will need, and if so are the licenses perpetual, supported or limited to just a short period?
To ensure you compare apples with apples, research what INS is at the heart of each system. What are its offerings in terms of true accuracy, and what are its limitations? Does it require a lengthy and complicated initialization procedure for each sortie?
What extra features, if any, might add value to your system? Pairing the scanner with one or even two optical sensors is now becoming commonplace. Are the cameras fixed or bolt on, are they calibrated to the laser? Does their data receive a feed from the IMU and GPS? Does the imagery colorise the laser's point cloud? Coolest of all, does it do it in realtime and live stream it to the ground, as the Lidar Swiss systems do?
Certainly from a form factor, weight and balance perspective not all systems are created equal either, which can induce implications for the vehicle to which they are mounted. No such problems with the ORC2 in the case of this range of scanner units. To illustrate my point, the weight of various manufacturers' systems featuring the exact same Riegl VUX-1 Mini UAV Lidar range between 6.5 lb and 12.5 lb. The biggest impact that has is on endurance, and by extension, coverage.
The ORC2 has endurance anywhere from 35 to 65 minutes with Lidar payload (depending on type and configuration). Collection speed is optimal at 10m/s in most cases and with the range afforded by the likes of the Riegl VUX-1 Mini Lidar and its wide effective swath that all translates to a lot of acres.
The effectiveness of the ORC2 platform is underpinned by its commercial grade, secure flight controller and its intuitive flight planning system. Your investment in the ORC2 and Lidar system is backed up by our FAA ASTM Compliant emergency parachute recovery system.
To find out more please visit altusintelligence.com or ask one of the Altus team.
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