Velodyne: How a “Wild Idea” About LiDAR Transformed the Aerial Mapping Industry

2018-02-01T19:49:50+00:00 February 1, 2018|Drones, LiDAR, UAV|
Phoenix Flight Planner for UAS Drones - Phoenix LiDAR Systems

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In 2012, Phoenix LiDAR CEO Grayson Omans had the revolutionary idea to mount a Velodyne LiDAR sensor on a UAV—and he transformed the aerial mapping industry in the process.

“I first approached Velodyne LiDAR in 2012 with the wild idea of putting a LiDAR sensor on a drone,” says Grayson Omans, CEO and co-founder of Phoenix LiDAR. “Back then, these LiDAR sensors were pretty expensive, so it was a novel idea. I had high hopes for the result, but I never imagined that we’d both end up disrupting the aerial mapping industry.”

The partnership between Velodyne and Phoenix took to the skies only six years ago, but already it has led to some remarkable innovations. Together, the two companies launched the industry’s first commercial UAV LiDAR system, establishing today’s broad use of LiDAR-enabled Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

Phoenix, which builds custom LiDAR systems by integrating various sensors, GNSS relative position receivers, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and more, went on to launch the industry’s first vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) fixed-wing UAV LiDAR system, the TerraHawk CW-20. For this innovation, Phoenix again chose a Velodyne LiDAR sensor. The TerraHawk allows surveyors to take advantage of the speed and stability of a fixed-wing UAV, while using VTOL to protect equipment in remote environments with no runway access.

“Our goal at Phoenix is to make drone LiDAR mapping easier and more affordable to any organization,” Omans adds. “We do a lot of research before we integrate a component into our LiDAR systems, and Velodyne has consistently offered a great balance between high power and affordability.”

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