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  • Insanely Accurate LiDAR: The New ROCK R3 PRO

    Get ready to experience the next level of accuracy and workflow with the new ROCK R3 PRO survey-grade LiDAR system! The R3 PRO is part of our comprehensive LiDAR workflow, and we're excited to get it off the ground. It's a game-changer, and we don't use that term lightly. First, the R3 PRO is 30% lighter than its predecessor, the ROCK R360, weighing in at only 1.2 kg. Plus, with a detachable 26 MP camera and seamless drone integration, it's never been easier to capture precise 3D data. The new ROCK Pilot mission planning app simplifies the workflow even further, allowing you to easily plan and execute missions with the R3 Pro. And when it comes to accuracy, the R3 PRO is hands down the best in class. See the results for yourself in our R3 dataset below. Supporting the R3 PRO, ROCK Desktop allows you to see your data in the field as well as upload a compressed LAZ file directly to ROCK Cloud. This way, you can preview your point cloud results before you go back to the office. ROCK Desktop and the R3 Pro are made for each other. The R3 PRO also features a quick and easy SLAM setup, enabling you to capture 3D data without the need for flying. And when you do take to the skies, the R3 PRO integrates seamlessly with the DJI M300 (as well as other professional-grade drones) and can be controlled from your smart controller, providing real-time data and eliminating the need for manual calibration flights. We've seen the incredible results firsthand, and the accuracy is under 2 cm. Honestly, you won't believe how clean the point clouds are in the datasets. You can merge SLAM and aerial datasets with ease in ROCK Cloud. You can use control points to further enhance the accuracy of your data. The R3 PRO is the next step in ROCK's comprehensive workflow to help scale up your land surveying or 3D mapping business. At ROCK, we offer expert training, live hands-on support, dynamic software, and even the ROCK RTK Network to ensure you have everything you need to complete your 3D mapping projects with ease. Don't miss out – the R3 Pro is available now on the ROCK store and is supported worldwide. So why wait? Start capturing precise 3D data today with the all-new ROCK R3 PRO. ROCK Robotic CEO Harrison Knoll offers his insight, saying: “The ROCK R3 PRO is a major step forward for ROCK Robotic. “It offers better accuracy, better SLAM, a better camera, a lighter payload — basically a better product all around. Not only will our current customers love it, but we’re confident that the R3 will attract new customers who want a great hardware product along with our great software and support.” See Harrison's Indiana Drones channel video about the R3 PRO: Learn more about the R3 PRO here.

  • 5 Ways LiDAR Can Measure Vegetation Health in the Forestry Industry

    In the world of forestry, LiDAR is an efficient way to get a quick read on the health of an area's vegetation. By capturing point cloud data to map out their structure, LiDAR can give you a massive amount of useful information about tree health, growth and structure. Here are five key ways LiDAR can help forestry industry professionals assess the health of vegetation and trees. Canopy Height The height of vegetation and trees is an essential framework for understanding ecosystems' functioning and biomass distribution. LiDAR can measure the height of vegetation and trees, providing valuable information about their growth and structure. LiDAR measures the height of vegetation and trees by emitting laser pulses toward the ground and measuring the time it takes for the laser to return after reflecting off the foliage. This information is then used to generate high-resolution 3D maps of the vegetation and trees, providing accurate and precise measurements of their height. Canopy Density Canopy density is another important facet of understanding an environment. Aerial LiDAR can be used to measure the density of vegetation and trees, supplying practical data about the amount of foliage in the canopy and biomass distribution. Changes in the density of vegetation or trees over time can indicate changes in their health and growth patterns, such as a decrease in density due to disease or pest infestations or an increase in density due to healthy growth. Leaf Area Index LiDAR can be used to estimate the leaf area index (LAI), which measures the amount of foliage in a vegetation canopy. The LAI provides information about the amount of photosynthetic area available to the vegetation, and changes in the LAI can indicate changes in the health and growth of the vegetation. Changes in the LAI over time can suggest increased or decreased tree health. Crown Structure Crown structure is how the branches, leaves, and foliage of a tree or plant are arranged — essentially the shape of a plant. LiDAR can help measure this structure by creating detailed point cloud maps of the vegetation and trees. The information gathered from these maps can give you insight into biomass distribution, which is the total amount of organic matter in the trees and plants. Learn More: Working with vegetation and power lines? ROCK Vegetation Management rapidly diagnoses and communicates critical violations for transmission and distribution asset management. Wood volume Wood volume refers to the total amount of space occupied by the woody material in a tree. It is a measure of the size and growth of a tree and is an important parameter in the forestry industry. Wood volume is used to estimate the amount of biomass in a tree, which in turn can be used to calculate the carbon storage capacity of a forest. The wood volume of a tree can be calculated by using — you guessed it — LiDAR. The information captured on wood volume can be used for various purposes, including forest management, biomass estimation, and carbon sequestration studies. LiDAR can provide useful data about the health and growth of vegetation and trees by measuring various biophysical parameters. This information can be used to support sustainable vegetation and forest management practices. The ROCK Robotic team is ready to discuss your forestry and vegetation management projects with you. Contact us today to start the conversation. Visit to learn more about our survey-grade LiDAR hardware and processing software.

  • Surveying Tricky Terrain? Drone LiDAR for the Win!

    Drone LiDAR technology is changing the landscape of how land surveys are conducted — pun 100% intended. Traditional surveying methods often pose significant risks to human surveyors, such as falls, exposure to extreme weather, and encounters with wildlife. LiDAR-equipped drones eliminate these risks and provide accurate and detailed data for planning and decision-making. In this article, we'll explore the benefits of using drone LiDAR for land surveys in hazardous terrain. Increased Efficiency Drone LiDAR systems can quickly and accurately survey large areas of hazardous terrain, providing a detailed 3D map with information on elevation, contours, and other features. This is especially useful in areas that are difficult or dangerous to access on foot or by vehicle, such as steep cliffs, dense, impassable forests, or rugged mountains. With drone LiDAR, surveyors can utilize efficient flight planning and identify potential hazards more easily. Related: A Surveying Company in Fiji Uses Drone LiDAR to Capture Contours for a 250-Acre Project Site Enhanced Safety The enhanced safety benefits of drone LiDAR cannot be overstated. Traditional surveying methods often require surveyors to traverse rugged terrain to collect data. This can be incredibly dangerous, with surveyors risking injury from falls or other accidents. By using drone LiDAR technology, surveyors can avoid these hazards altogether. Instead, they can collect data remotely from a safe distance, reducing the likelihood of injury. This not only protects surveyors, but also allows them to focus on analyzing the data rather than worrying about their safety. After all, surveying with a LiDAR-equipped UAV can help you avoid encounters with bears, snakes and bobcats (oh my)! Using drone LiDAR for land surveys in treacherous terrain can have a positive impact on the environment. By reducing the need for surveyors to access unstable terrain physically, LiDAR technology can help minimize the amount of disturbance to sensitive ecosystems. This is particularly important in areas with fragile ecosystems, where human activity can have significant negative impacts. Accurate Data Collection Precise measurements are critical for planning safe and efficient routes in these areas, and traditional surveying methods may only sometimes provide the level of accuracy required. LiDAR-equipped drones, on the other hand, are highly accurate and can provide a level of detail that is difficult to achieve with traditional surveying methods. The drones use a combination of laser beams and GPS technology to collect point cloud data, providing detailed maps of the landscape. This level of accuracy allows surveyors to make more informed decisions, ultimately leading to safer and more efficient routes. Related: Why ROCK Cloud is the Best LiDAR Data Processing Software Cost Savings Advanced LiDAR systems are becoming more affordable and accessible, making them more cost-effective for land surveying in hazardous terrain. Traditional surveying methods, such as ground-based LiDAR or manual surveys, can be time-consuming and expensive, especially in dangerous areas. With drone LiDAR, surveyors can quickly collect accurate data and avoid the costs associated with manual surveys. This makes drone LiDAR a great option for organizations with champagne expectations on beer budgets. Drone LiDAR can also help minimize costs in other areas. Using drone LiDAR can reduce the costs associated with on-site personnel and equipment. The drones can be programmed to fly a specific route and collect data, reducing the need for surveyors to travel to the site. This also eliminates the need for expensive equipment, such as cranes or helicopters, which may be required in hazardous terrain. By eliminating the risks associated with traditional surveying methods, drone LiDAR can help protect human surveyors from potential harm and injury while providing accurate and detailed data for planning and decision-making. As advances in drone LiDAR technology continue to accelerate, we expect to see an increase in its use for land surveys in hazardous terrain. Looking for survey-grade post-processing software? Start your 14-day free trial of ROCK Cloud today at

  • Easily convert LAS to LAZ and view your point cloud in the field with ROCK Desktop (Free Download!)

    Introducing ROCK Desktop — a free point cloud file converter and data visualizer. ROCK Desktop converts your LAS files to LAZ files, compressing them by 90% of their original size. Saving precious storage space on your hard drive, all while drastically reducing upload and processing time (up to 10x faster!). ROCK Desktop also allows you to immediately view your captured point cloud data in the field without the need for an internet connection. Capture Your Best Point Cloud We wanted to offer a product that allows surveyors and LiDAR professionals to experience seamless integration from field to office to the cloud. Now you can cross your t’s and dot your i’s in the field to see if you need to re-fly an area. For ROCK Cloud users, you can simply upload your already-converted data to the cloud for post-processing in a fraction of the time. ROCK Desktop gives you the quality control you need, making your aerial LiDAR surveying jobs more streamlined and efficient. You’ll never need to schlep back out to the job site to redo all the work you’ve already done. You’ll know right away if your data is good to go. Convert Your Files from LAS to LAZ There are a few free point cloud conversion programs out there, but we wanted one that provided a better user experience, faster integration, and a cloud-optimized workflow for existing ROCK Cloud users — although you don't have to be a ROCK Cloud user to use ROCK Desktop! LAS-to-LAZ conversion and compression saves precious hard drive space and allows for significantly quicker uploads to the cloud. Go deeper: Learn more about LAS and LAZ file formats here! Visualize Your Data ROCK Desktop is a free local point cloud viewer. While there are a handful of other point cloud visualization tools out there, we weren’t satisfied with their workflows or interfaces. Simply stated, we wanted to make something better that allows surveying professionals to have a simple, user-friendly workflow. You don’t need a WiFi connection to view your point cloud data in ROCK Desktop. The software allows you to see your data right away, even if you’re in the middle of nowhere with no signal. We’ve all been there! Seamlessly Sync to ROCK Cloud This feature offers two major upgrades to your project workflow. Speed up your upload time by 10x with your already-converted LAZ file. And then, once your project is uploaded, you'll be able to see your data right away and start working with it in ROCK Cloud. ROCK Cloud is packed with tons of great features to get quality deliverables to your clients. It does the post-processing work for you, offering easy one-click processing deliverables through the ROCK Cloud Marketplace, including ROCK Surveyor, ROCK Planimetrics and ROCK SLAM. Don’t Use ROCK Products? If you don’t use ROCK Robotic LiDAR hardware or software — that’s okay. ROCK Desktop is free for anyone who wants a useful and effective tool to convert and visualize their point cloud data. Of course, we recommend that you utilize our survey-grade suite of LiDAR and aerial mapping software. But if you don’t, you can still take advantage of ROCK Desktop for free — right now! ROCK Desktop is part of our mission to provide LiDAR professionals an end-to-end solution to capture and process LiDAR data with precision accuracy. Download ROCK Desktop today! Are you ready to give ROCK Cloud a try? Start your 14-day free trial today.

  • Case Study: Using ROCK LiDAR to Inspect Power Lines Across California

    California-based company Surefire tackles complex construction management projects. When one of the state’s largest utility companies approached them with a series of inspection projects spanning much of the north coastal region of California, the team couldn’t pass up the opportunity. So how did Surefire approach this extensive power line inspection project? One drone LiDAR flight at a time. PROJECT SNAPSHOT ROCK Client: Surefire Surefire Client: One of California’s largest utility agencies Assignment: Inspect a large series of powerlines to ensure the utilities comply with all California Public Utilities Commission regulations and requirements. Result: Surefire was able to capture accurate point cloud data efficiently and safely and delivered the data in a preferred format for the utility industry. ROCK CLIENT: Surefire in Temecula, California Surefire is a fully-integrated construction management and technical service company. Its team of highly-trained, knowledgeable inspectors and managers specializes in design and construction quality-control services for major utilities throughout California. Surefire mainly uses drone LiDAR on transmission jobs, scanning powerlines and converting point cloud data into PLS-CADD models for utility agencies’ use. We spoke with Noah Carr, Drone Division Manager at Surefire, for this case study. EQUIPMENT USED Carr and his crew used a DJI M300 RTK drone with ROCK Robotic R2A LiDAR hardware. PROJECT BACKGROUND Surefire is continually collaborating with one of California's leading utility providers to develop a system for efficiently gathering as-built data that complies with all California Public Utilities Commission regulations and requirements (this project is still ongoing as of the time the case study was published). With the rise in wildfires and their possible link to power lines, there is a pressing need to capture this information as quickly as possible, beginning with collecting data from the foundation, steel, and wire. A drone then performs a LiDAR flight to complete the process. The ultimate aim is to provide engineers with accurate and up-to-date information for their models. To accomplish this, a rapid turnaround on capturing as-built data is required for new construction. The Hilltop Utility Project posed a unique set of challenges for the Surefire team. The tower they were tasked with scanning was situated atop a hill with a 500-foot elevation difference from the base. Because of the specifications mandated, the crew needed to capture data from one tower ahead of the line and one tower on the back of the line. This presented an obstacle. The drone was not visible from the base of the peak, and a receiver connection was impossible due to the steep drop-off on the other side of the hill. In addition, continuous rainfall in the days leading up to the project rendered the road leading up to the tower impassable for vehicles and barely traversable on foot due to its steep and muddy condition. In contrast, projects on flat terrain are generally less complicated, allowing larger areas to be covered in a shorter amount of time. SOLUTION The Surefire team had to overcome the connection issues and visual line-of-sight challenges. Initially, they couldn’t take off from the peak because there was no way to get the equipment up there, so they opted to set up the drone at the base of one side of the hill. Subsequently, they embarked on a grueling hike up the muddy incline with the controller and laptop, covering over a mile to reach the top. However, an error message popped up as UgCS would not stay connected in the relatively remote area outside of the nearest town. Despite attempting to troubleshoot their UgCS connection for around 30 minutes, the team concluded that flying the site manually was the only option. However, manual flying of powerlines posed its own set of challenges, particularly when trying to maintain a straight line while changing elevation the whole flight; the corridor had an elevation change of 400ft in less than a mile. To address this, Carr launched the drone from the hill's peak, with a visual observer stationed at the bottom. Carr then repeated the manual flight path four times to ensure adequate overlap and sufficient width coverage of the corridor. Although the operation was tricky, the Surefire team successfully completed the data capture. They subsequently trekked down the hill's backside to retrieve their GCP targets and back up again to complete the project. Despite the challenges, the data turned out to be accurate and error-free. RESULTS Using LiDAR technology for the project proved to be a more efficient and cost-effective solution compared to the alternative. If the team hadn't used LiDAR for the project, the utility would have had to use a helicopter to scan just one or two towers which is not cost effective compared to drones. Thanks to the use of a drone, however, there was no need for any utility disruptions (or helicopters), and the project was able to proceed smoothly without any negative impacts on the surrounding community. This ongoing utility inspection project will result in faster data for the utility and a safer energy grid for the community the utilities serve. The Hilltop Utility Project is only one piece of this much larger puzzle, which will provide a trove of helpful data to Surefire’s utility client. Surefire didn’t order any deliverables from ROCK Cloud for this project, as their client requested data in PLS-CADD files directly from the point cloud data. “If we were to use a deliverable from ROCK Cloud,” offered Carr, “it would definitely be the vegetation management deliverable, and we will be using that soon later on in the larger scope of the project." The [ROCK] hardware has worked great for us so far, and the best thing has been the team behind the scenes and the customer support that ROCK Robotic has provided. Surefire Consulting was an early adopter of ROCK hardware and ROCK Cloud software. Carr noted that “The hardware has worked great for us so far, and the best thing has been the team behind the scenes and the customer support that ROCK Robotic has provided. They are able to offer high-quality customer service, which provides a ton of value to my team.” Start your 14-day free trial of ROCK Cloud today at

  • How to Use Drone LiDAR for Construction Site Development

    Construction site development is a complex process that requires precise planning and execution. Every detail must be accounted for to ensure the construction is safe, efficient, and successful. One of the most important aspects of construction site development is accurate and efficient data collection. Traditionally, this has been done through surveying and mapping, which can be time-consuming, costly, and potentially dangerous. However, with the development of more accurate and efficient drone LiDAR technology, construction site surveying has become much simpler, faster, and safer. In this article, we'll discuss how to use drone-equipped LiDAR for construction site development, including its benefits, applications, and best practices. What is Drone LiDAR? LiDAR is a remote sensing technology that uses laser pulses to measure distances and create 3D maps of objects and environments. Drone LiDAR is a variation of this technology that uses drones as the platform for data collection. Equipping a drone with a LiDAR sensor makes it possible to collect a high-resolution, accurate, and detailed 3D point cloud of a construction site from the air. Benefits of Using Drone LiDAR for Construction Site Development There are several benefits to using a drone LiDAR system for construction site development, including: Accuracy: LiDAR sensors can collect data with a high degree of accuracy, which is essential for construction site development. The data collected can be used to create precise 3D models of the site, which can be used for planning, design, and construction. Efficiency: Drone LiDAR can collect 3D point cloud data much faster than traditional surveying methods. This means construction projects can be completed more quickly and with less downtime. Safety: LiDAR eliminates the need for surveyors to work in potentially hazardous environments, such as near heavy machinery or uneven terrain. This reduces the risk of accidents and injuries. Cost Savings: Drone LiDAR can be more cost-effective than traditional surveying methods, requiring less personnel and equipment. ROCK Cloud post-processing software allows you to skip most of the time-consuming data processing, sending you the deliverables you need for your project. ROCK Cloud offers photogrammetry support, delivers construction site planimetrics, and delivers highly accurate contour maps. Applications of Drone LiDAR in Construction Site Development LiDAR can be used for a variety of applications in construction site development. Here are some of the most common uses: Site Surveying: Drone LiDAR can quickly and accurately survey a construction site, generating detailed 3D maps of the site. This can help construction managers identify potential hazards, plan construction activities, and ensure that the site meets the necessary regulatory requirements. Volume Calculations: LiDAR can be used to calculate the volume of materials on a construction site, such as stockpiles of gravel, sand, or soil. This can help construction managers estimate the amount of materials needed for a project and avoid delays due to material shortages. Topographical Mapping: LiDAR sensors can create high-resolution topo maps of a construction site, which can help construction managers identify the best locations for building foundations, roads, and other infrastructure. Quality Control: You can use drone LiDAR to monitor the quality of construction work. By comparing point clouds collected at different stages of the construction process, construction managers can identify deviations from the planned design and take corrective action. Safety Inspections: Drone LiDAR can be used to inspect construction sites for potential safety hazards, such as unstable slopes, erosion, or areas prone to flooding. This can help construction managers identify and mitigate potential risks before they cause accidents or delays. Best Practices for Using Drone LiDAR in Construction Site Development To ensure the best results when using UAV LiDAR in construction site development, it is essential to follow some best practices, including: Choose the right drone and LiDAR sensor for the job. The ROCK R360 LiDAR sensor creates the highest accuracy 3D point clouds and outpaces any other LiDAR systems you can find. Plan the flight path carefully, considering the terrain and any potential obstacles. Calibrate the LiDAR sensor and adjust the settings for optimal performance. Ensure that the drone and LiDAR are properly maintained and serviced. Process the data carefully, using specialized software like ROCK Cloud to create accurate and detailed 3D models. Should construction companies be using LiDAR? Absolutely. Here's just one example of a company that has saved $300,000 in just seven projects by measuring contours. It's not a bandwagon if it's the best option. If you're a construction project manager and your company isn't using drone LiDAR yet, it's time to get on board. Visit to learn more about our survey-grade hardware and processing software.

  • 7 Ways to Boost Your Drone's Battery Life

    To harness a drone's full potential, it's crucial to know how to stretch its battery life. This article offers seven useful tips to help increase the amount of time spent in the air. By following these suggestions, aerial drone surveying and photography can be done with more efficiency and success. 1. Choose the right battery. Not all drone batteries are created equal. Choosing the best battery for your drone can significantly impact its flight time because not all batteries are created equal. Some batteries may be designed specifically for your UAV model and have a higher capacity and longer lifespan. They may also have advanced features such as built-in sensors that monitor the battery's health, voltage, and temperature, which can help optimize its performance. Also, high-quality batteries are more reliable and less likely to fail during flight, which can ensure that your drone stays in the air for longer periods. 2. Calibrate the battery. Before each flight, calibrate your drone's battery. During calibration, the drone measures the voltage and capacity of the battery and updates its firmware with the current battery status. This ensures that the drone knows precisely how much power it has available and can better manage its power usage during flight. When the UAV accurately knows the battery status, it can optimize its flight performance and avoid unexpected shut-downs, extending the battery life and increasing the overall flight time. This is a critical way to keep your battery power at an ideal level. 3. Keep your drone at a stable altitude. Maintaining your drone at a stable altitude can help extend its battery life and increase its flight time because it reduces the amount of energy the drone uses. Flying at a steady altitude requires less energy than flying at constantly changing altitudes, as the UAV must use more power to adjust to maintain stability. By flying at a stable altitude, the drone can conserve energy and use it more efficiently, which can help extend its battery life and increase its flight time. Not only that, but flying at a stable altitude can reduce the stress on the drone's components, which can help reduce wear and tear and improve its overall performance and longevity. 4. Reduce weight. The lighter your drone, the longer the battery life will be. Reducing your drone's payload can help increase its flight time by reducing the amount of weight the drone has to carry. The heavier the drone, the more energy it must use to maintain flight, and the faster the battery will drain. By reducing the payload, you can minimize the weight of the UAV, which will result in less energy consumption and longer battery life. This can also reduce the stress on the drone's components, improve its stability, and increase its overall performance. When preparing for an aerial survey, ensure to only carry the essential equipment and remove any attachments or components that are unnecessary for the mission. 5. Avoid extreme temperatures. Avoiding extreme temperatures can help extend the battery life and increase the flight time of your drone because extreme temperatures can have a negative impact on the battery. High temperatures can cause the battery to overheat and reduce its capacity and lifespan, while low temperatures can make the battery less efficient and reduce its performance. Avoiding extreme temperatures can help protect the battery from damage and ensure that it performs at its best. Go Deeper: What is the best weather for drone flying? We also recommend you store your UAV in a temperature-controlled environment when not in use, as this can also help extend the battery life and improve its performance. 6. Use power-saving modes. Some drones come equipped with power-saving modes that can help extend battery life. Using power-saving modes can help extend the flight time of your drone by reducing the amount of energy it uses. Many drones have power-saving modes, such as reduced speed or limited camera usage, which can reduce the energy the drone uses during flight. By using these modes, you can conserve battery power and extend the drone's flight time. Power-saving modes can also reduce stress on the drone's components, improve stability, and increase the overall efficiency of the drone. When using a drone for aerial surveying, consider activating the power-saving mode when possible to conserve battery power and extend the flight time. 7. Plan your flight path. Planning your flight path can help extend the flight time of your drone by reducing the amount of energy it uses. By mapping out your flight path in advance, you can minimize the number of changes in altitude, direction, and speed, which can reduce the amount of energy the drone uses. By minimizing energy usage, you can conserve battery power and extend the flight time. Learn More: Double Grids and LiDAR Flight Planning In addition, planning your flight path can also reduce stress on the drone's components, improve stability, and increase the overall efficiency of the drone. When preparing for an aerial survey, consider mapping out a flight path that takes advantage of natural terrain features, wind currents, and other factors that can help conserve energy and extend the flight time. Maximizing your drone's battery life is crucial for ensuring the success of your aerial drone surveying mission. Following these helpful tips can help extend your drone's battery life and ensure that you capture all the data and images you need. Visit to learn more about our survey-grade LiDAR hardware and processing software.

  • Major Benefits of Using LiDAR Surveying for Transportation Departments

    Transportation departments have a big job on their hands — they're in charge of keeping our roads, bridges, and other infrastructure in good shape. Capturing accurate data is key to ensuring everything is running smoothly. And while traditional surveying methods have worked in the past, the advent of commercially available LiDAR scanners is shaking things up and offering some major benefits. So, what's so great about LiDAR surveying for a department of transportation (DOT)? Let's take a closer look. Speed and Efficiency LiDAR sensors like the ROCK R360 can collect data in a fraction of the time it would take with traditional methods. This means that transportation departments can quickly assess their infrastructure, plan repairs, and respond to any issues without causing significant disruptions to traffic. It's a win-win situation — they get the information they need faster, and drivers don't have to deal with lengthy road closures. Combine powerful LiDAR hardware with robust post-processing software like ROCK Cloud, and you can spend more time on high-priority projects. Accuracy LiDAR scanners can capture high-resolution images and robust point cloud data. This level of detail can help transportation departments identify problems that traditional surveying might not cover in a normal work order. By catching these issues early, they can address them before they become major headaches. Cost-Effectiveness LiDAR surveying can save any DOT a lot of money. Departments can allocate their resources toward higher-priority projects by reducing the need for additional labor. And because drones equipped with LiDAR can quickly cover a lot of ground, they can also reduce the overall cost of surveying. Flexibility & Adaptability LiDAR surveying has a wide range of applications in the transportation world. In addition to surveying roads and bridges, survey crews with LiDAR-equipped drones can inspect construction sites, monitor traffic flow, and assess damage from natural disasters. The versatility of drone LiDAR surveying is a major advantage for transportation departments looking to improve their infrastructure. Power Line Inspections Another area where drone LiDAR surveying can be a game-changer is in power line inspections. Transportation departments are often responsible for maintaining power lines, but inspecting them can be dangerous and time-consuming. LiDAR-equipped drones can quickly and safely inspect power lines, looking for issues such as broken cables, damaged poles, and other potential problems. LiDAR sensors can capture hard-to-reach geospatial data, providing a detailed view of the power lines that would be difficult to obtain through traditional inspections. Using LiDAR-equipped drones for power line inspections, transportation departments can keep our power grids running smoothly while keeping workers out of harm's way. Safety Traditional surveying can be dangerous, requiring workers to be in difficult or hazardous areas. But with drone surveying, there's no need for workers to be in these areas. This keeps everyone safe and reduces the risk of accidents or injuries. Plus, drone surveying minimizes disruptions to traffic flow. Who doesn’t like fewer traffic jams? LiDAR surveying offers many benefits over traditional surveying in DOTs. As technology advances, the future of drone LiDAR surveying in the transportation industry looks bright. So, buckle up and enjoy the ride! Visit to learn more about our survey-grade LiDAR hardware and processing software.

  • 3 Surveyors and Another Guy: An Incomplete History of Famous U.S. Surveyors

    Mount Rushmore is known for its giant presidential faces carved into the Black Hills, but did you know that three of the four presidents were actually former surveyors? That's right, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln all got their start as land surveyors before becoming presidents. So, when people joke about Mount Rushmore being "Three surveyors and another guy," they're not too far off. The only non-surveyor president on the sculpture is Theodore Roosevelt. Come on, Teddy! George Washington We mentioned George Washington, as his image is etched in Mt. Rushmore. At just 17 years old, he was appointed as Surveyor General for Virginia and helped to survey the land and pave the way for westward expansion. Washington’s intimate knowledge of the Virginia backcountry gained from surveying the commonwealth helped him devise successful strategies as a lieutenant colonel in the French and Indian War. Thomas Jefferson How about Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States? He worked as the Albermarle County surveyor in Virginia in 1773 and later sent Merriweather Lewis and William Clark on their famous expedition to explore the land gained through the Louisiana Purchase. We’ll get to them in a second. And if you keep reading, you'll pick up on the theme that Jefferson was perhaps the single-most influential surveyor in U.S. history, both prior to the Louisiana Purchase and after it. Abraham Lincoln To round out our list of primary presidential land surveyors, there’s Honest Abe. Before becoming the 16th president of the United States, Lincoln was a self-educated man from Kentucky who worked as a storekeeper, postmaster, and land surveyor, all while studying law. He was a man of many talents and skills! Daniel Boone Let’s explore some other notable surveyors in U.S. history, starting with Daniel Boone. As an American pioneer and explorer, Boone helped settle land claims and was known for his travels across the American frontier. Although he never went to school, he became an expert tracker in his teenage years and eventually took up surveying. Boone performed over 160 surveys during his career, mostly in the state of Kentucky. However, he did receive quite a bit of flack from his clients, as his surveys weren’t very accurate. Boone really could have used a ROCK R360 LiDAR scanner. Just saying. Henry David Thoreau American writer and Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau held jobs as a teacher and as a worker in his dad’s pencil factory, but his longest-held job tenure was as a land surveyor. Thoreau is probably best known for his 1854 book Walden, which explores his values of simple living in nature. While his buddy Ralph Waldo Emerson owned the Walden Pond property, Thoreau actually surveyed the land in 1846. Benjamin Banneker Benjamin Banneker was a mathematician, almanac author, scientist and land surveyor. In 1789, then Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson hired Banneker to survey the borders of Washington, D.C. You can still find some of his original boundary stones today. Notably, Benjamin Banneker made a name for himself as the first high-profile African-American surveyor in the U.S., gaining the admiration of Jefferson and his contemporaries. Lewis and Clark We can’t talk about significant U.S. surveying contributions without mentioning Lewis and Clark. The famous duo set out with their crew of forty to survey the Louisiana Purchase all the way to Oregon. As America’s most famous surveyors, Lewis and Clark created about 140 maps of the vast area (all without GPS, by the way). America’s rich heritage of surveyors makes standing out in a field seem worth it! These historical figures left a legacy of a noble, important profession that ROCK Robotic helps continue today. As we stand on the shoulders of these impressive surveying giants, let’s keep moving forward in exploring the land. Ready to make your contribution to surveying history? Visit to learn more about our survey-grade hardware and processing software.

  • Drones Are Going to Take Our Jobs: Dispelling Myths About UAVs in the Surveying Industry

    Drone LiDAR technology is becoming increasingly popular in the surveying and mapping industry, but many traditional surveyors are still hesitant to adopt it for their projects. In this article, we will explore some of the barriers that traditional surveyors cite for not using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and how these myths can be dispelled. Myth 1: The High Cost of LiDAR One of the main myths surrounding the use of LiDAR for surveying projects is that it is more expensive than traditional surveying methods. However, this is not necessarily the case. While the initial investment for a drone LiDAR system is high, it can be more cost-effective in the long run. A significant advantage of using drone LiDAR is that it can be done with fewer people in less time. This can significantly reduce the labor costs associated with traditional surveying methods. Drone LiDAR can also cover large areas much faster than conventional methods, which can help to speed up the overall project timeline. Additionally, the higher accuracy of LiDAR data can mean fewer revisits to the site to re-measure or re-survey areas, further reducing costs. While LiDAR used to be expensive and time-consuming, now it only takes about 30 minutes of flying out in the field each day for an average project, and you can count on ROCK Cloud to do the heavy lifting of post-processing your data and deliverables for you. Myth 2: Technology is a Barrier Another barrier surveyors cite is a lack of experience and knowledge of LiDAR technology. However, many companies now offer training and support services, which can help surveyors gain the necessary experience and expertise to use drone LiDAR on their projects. Additionally, by learning this technology, surveyors can stay competitive in the industry and offer more advanced services to their clients. Purchasing a ROCK Cloud Business plan subscription brings with it the benefit of Live Chat Support during business hours. You can chat from any ROCK Robotic webpage or directly from your ROCK Cloud project! Connect with the ROCK Support Team to ask your questions and get real-time, real human support! Chat in for help, and the ROCK Support Team is always happy to point you in the right direction or work to find the answer that moves you forward. We also offer email support at anytime. Email your questions and expect to hear back from a ROCK Support Team member with solutions! Visit our ROCK Solid Support page to learn more. Myth 3: Drones Are Going to Take Our Jobs We hear this one a lot from traditional surveying companies looking to dip their toes into the LiDAR pool. Some surveyors may be hesitant to adopt drone LiDAR technology because they believe it will automate their jobs and make them obsolete. However, this is not the case. Drones can actually increase the efficiency and accuracy of surveying and mapping projects, allowing surveyors to take on more challenging and complex projects. Drones simply can't replace the human element of surveying, such as decision-making, interpretation and analysis of data. Drones simply can't replace the human element of surveying, such as decision-making, interpretation and analysis of data. The surveying and mapping industry in the United States currently faces a shortage of qualified professionals. In reality, surveying jobs exceed surveying job seekers with no change in sight. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of surveyors is projected to grow 4 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, the number of surveyors graduating from college or university programs is not keeping up with this projected growth, leading to a shortage of qualified professionals. In fact, many companies are struggling to find qualified professionals to fill open positions. Based on our industry insight, hiring will not catch up anytime soon, but the demand for surveying work will only continue to increase. This leads to longer turnaround times for projects and increased client costs. Myth 4: Drone Surveying Isn't as Accurate as Traditional Surveying One of the myths surrounding the use of drones for surveying projects is that it is less accurate than using traditional methods. However, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, drone LiDAR technology can provide highly accurate and detailed data that can be used for a variety of applications, such as land use planning, infrastructure development, and disaster management. One of the main advantages of using drone LiDAR is its high level of accuracy. The LiDAR sensor can capture millions of data points per second, which can be used to create highly detailed 3D models and maps. This level of detail can be much higher than what can be achieved with traditional surveying methods, such as total station or GPS. Additionally, LiDAR sensors (like ROCK's R360 and R2A) penetrate vegetation and dense forest, providing accurate data in areas that are difficult to access. Not only that, ROCK Cloud delivers an accuracy report for your point cloud data. Simply stated, drone LiDAR captures data that is impossible to obtain with traditional methods and with greater accuracy. LiDAR technology is revolutionizing the surveying and mapping industry, but traditional surveyors may still be hesitant to adopt it due to myths and misconceptions. By embracing this technology, surveyors can stay competitive in the industry and offer more advanced services to their clients. Drones are a crucial part of the surveying workflow you should be using. Visit to learn more about our survey-grade hardware and processing software.

  • From Space Lasers to Autonomous Vehicles: The History of LiDAR

    LiDAR makes it seem like we're living in the future. Today's technology allows us to receive over one million laser pulses per second of precision location data. But how did LiDAR get to where it is today? Let's investigate the origins and evolution of LiDAR. The Birth of LiDAR The origins of LiDAR have their roots in the early 1960s, when researchers at NASA and the US military began exploring new methods for measuring the distance to objects from aircraft. The fundamental concept of LiDAR is to emit a laser beam and measure the time it takes for the light to bounce back to the sensor. This method allows the sensor to determine the distance to the object. During this early stage, the military was searching for new technologies that could provide more precise and comprehensive information about the locations and movements of enemies. The first LiDAR systems were built on the pulsed time-of-flight principle, which employs laser pulses to determine the distance to an object. This principle is still used in current LiDAR systems and forms the foundation of the technology. These early LiDAR systems were large, unwieldy and costly, rendering them impractical for everyday use. Additionally, the data they produced wasn't very accurate, and the systems could only scan small areas at a time. However, the potential of the technology was clear, and scientists continued to work on improving the accuracy and capabilities of LiDAR systems. The Development of Solid-State LiDAR In the 1970s, the LiDAR industry took a significant step forward with the development of solid-state LiDAR. This new type of LiDAR used a solid-state laser instead of a gas laser. The solid-state laser was smaller, cheaper and more reliable than the previous systems. This made it more practical for civilian use and opened up new possibilities for the technology. The development of solid-state LiDAR made it possible to miniaturize LiDAR systems, making them more portable and easier to use. Additionally, the solid-state laser was more efficient and required less power, which made the systems more energy-efficient. This was a crucial step in the evolution of LiDAR technology. It allowed for the development of smaller and more affordable LiDAR systems that could be used in a wide range of applications. The solid-state laser also allowed for the development of new sensors and processing techniques that improved the accuracy of the data produced by LiDAR systems. This made it possible to create more detailed and accurate 3D models of the environment, which is essential for many of the applications of LiDAR, such as mapping and surveying. Furthermore, the solid-state laser improved the overall stability of the systems, which increased the reliability of the data. The Emergence of LiDAR in Mapping and Surveying The evolution of LiDAR in the 1980s and 1990s saw significant advances in the technology. During this time period, LiDAR systems moved from being primarily laboratory-based to being more portable and field-ready. In 1984, Optech launched the LARSEN 500, the first operational LiDAR bathymeter, charting Cambridge Bay in the Canadian Arctic. A few years later, Optech introduced the first commercial airborne LiDAR system, the Optech Airborne Laser Terrain Mapper (ALTM). This system was capable of collecting data at a high rate and had a measurement accuracy of up to 10 cm. It represented a major step forward in the field of airborne LiDAR, making it possible to collect large amounts of high-accuracy data over a wide area in a relatively short amount of time. In the 1990s, the development of more advanced sensors and better data processing techniques made it possible to collect and process even more data, with higher accuracy and at a faster rate. New software and data visualization tools were developed to make it easier to analyze and use LiDAR data. The development of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs) made it possible to accurately geolocate LiDAR data in real-time, making it possible to use the data for navigation and guidance. In 1998, Cyra Technologies unveiled the Cyrax 2400, the first tripod-mounted, commercial 3D scanner. It came with Cyclone, the first integrated point-cloud software. Today, ROCK Robotic's ROCK Cloud software offers DSPs and surveyors cloud-based point cloud data post-processing. The 2000s brought rapid advancement to LiDAR technology, as commercial-grade LiDAR became even more reliable, affordable and accurate. In 2007, Google launched Street View, which now uses LiDAR sensors to help its vehicles avoid potholes while building a 360-degree view of the world. LiDAR Today Now LiDAR is used in a wide range of industries, from self-driving cars to drone mapping to autonomous farming. LiDAR has become more affordable and accessible, making it possible for individuals and businesses to use it for their groundbreaking projects. ROCK Robotic is grateful to the trailblazers who have advanced LiDAR technology to where it is today, and we plan to continue their legacy of boundary-breaking location precision and efficiency. Visit to learn more about our survey-grade LiDAR hardware and processing software.

  • Case Study: Drone Services Provider Navigates a 2,500-Acre Gold Mine Site in Fiji with ROCK LiDAR

    This project has everything. Gold mines. Volcanoes. Dense vegetation. Treacherous terrain. Wild weather conditions. And drones beaming lasers toward the ground at 720,000 pulses per second. If you ask us, this should be the plot for yet another Indiana Jones sequel. But it’s real life! This aerial LiDAR surveying project actually happened in a remote area of Fiji. While we do intend to give due diligence to this impressive aerial surveying project by the ROCK Stars at Kahuto Pacific, it’s impossible to do so in a dry case study. So, allow us to "geek out" for a minute while sharing the results of this epic endeavor. Project Snapshot ROCK Client: Kahuto Pacific (Suva, Fiji) Kahuto Pacific Client: Canadian mining company operating in Fiji Assignment: The client needed accurate contours for the challenging 2,500-acre site, which includes a large gold-mining operation. Result: Kahuto delivered contours that helped its client determine where to construct key infrastructure features. ROCK Client: Kahuto Pacific in Suva, Fiji Kahuto Pacific specializes in the capture and process of spatial and visual data for the Pacific’s leading engineering, surveying and land development consultants. It utilizes cutting-edge drone and photogrammetry technologies like the ROCK R2A LiDAR to deliver the most effective and compelling solutions, including surveys, inspection and monitoring. Kahuto is emerging as the LiDAR leader in its area of the globe. Equipment Used The Kahuto Pacific team used a DJI M300 drone fitted with a ROCK R2A LiDAR system. The point cloud data was processed with ROCK Cloud software. Problem Kahuto Pacific was hired by a Canadian mining company to provide topographic, aerial LiDAR for 2,500 acres (1,000 hectares) of densely vegetated, mountainous terrain. For context, the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, is 2,500 acres and includes 160 buildings on its mostly flat property. Remove the buildings and add thousands of trees and perilous elevation drop-offs, and you can get a good sense of the area. The site was a massive area full of challenging mountainous terrain (near a volcano, nonetheless). The terrain had dense vegetation throughout much of the area, which usually makes generating topos difficult and/or inaccurate. The client needed bare earth models to aid in determining where key infrastructure elements needed to be built. Most of the area was impassable by vehicles, so equipment was transported via horseback. In addition, heavy rainstorms delayed capturing data and also made the terrain more hazardous to traverse. As if the terrain wasn’t tricky enough, that wasn’t what made the project a big risk for Kahuto Pacific. The company already had a proven track record of successful photogrammetry projects, including aerial surveys of 10,000-acre (40 sq. km) sites, but had never used LiDAR to capture point cloud data. This wasn’t exactly the kind of project you dip your toe in the water for, but the Kahuto team couldn’t resist at least exploring the opportunity. “These guys were a big company that needed a good dataset,” said Christopher Saili, Managing Director of Kahuto Pacific. “They had a lot riding on it, and I could feel it. So we went in all guns blazing and got it done.” Solution Saili and his team had to conduct a prudent round of risk assessment. They turned to ROCK Robotic. At the time, an industry peer / business reference was working for a surveying company that used a ROCK R2A LiDAR scanner and ROCK Cloud for many of its jobs. “The planning — having help from someone who had used ROCK before — helped us go through the process of risk assessment,” Saili offered. “ROCK worked with us to understand what we needed to deliver, from flight height to the placement of the ground control points to post-processing of the data.” Once Saili thoroughly discussed and vetted both the process and the ROCK hardware and software with ROCK, Kahuto Pacific decided to move forward with the gold mine site data capture. “That really helped us realize this was a risk worth taking. There were proven steps to deliver a reliable dataset,” remarked Saili. After scouting and gridding the area, then placing GCPs on horseback, the Kahuto team conducted dozens of drone flights using the DJI M300 and captured point cloud data using the ROCK R2A, until every point of the entire 2,500-acre area was captured. While it’s easy to read the previous sentence as a quick summary of the data-capturing process, it certainly wasn’t easy on the ground. “We were carrying generators, M300s, and big heavy equipment,” Saili recalled. “We were riding on horseback for hours through rainy, steamy, hot, muddy terrain. You’d look up at the sky in the area you’re trekking into, and it would be clear. An hour and a half later, you’d be standing on the mountain, and rain would begin to roll through. That was such a challenge and an adventure. But we were able to deliver.” Results The Kahuto Pacific team processed the datasets in ROCK Cloud and ordered contours and DEMs through ROCK Surveyor. In total, they captured a mind-boggling 5.5 billion points of data. That's "billion" with a "b." Kahuto’s client used the data to tender out the work for their tailings dam and immediately started the design work for their mill site. Once the client got their LiDAR data from Kahuto, their geologist was instantly able to look at it to determine precisely where they needed to drill. “Their eyes lit up once they saw the digital terrain model with the contours overlaid,” Saili shared. “The thing that I’m most pleased about is the ease of use of the LiDAR. We were able to take the hardware and deliver a product for the first time at such challenging terrains and at such a decent scale. A thousand hectares for our first [aerial LiDAR] project with mountainous terrain.” Kahuto Pacific’s first LiDAR project — a 2,500-acre undertaking — was a massive triumph. “Honestly, this was such a big thing for us," Saili commented. "The client is absolutely over the moon with the data we delivered.” “The client is absolutely over the moon with the data we delivered.” — Christopher Saili, Managing Director, Kahuto Pacific The ROCK Support Team often gets questions about the ability for the R2A or R360 to capture accurate point clouds in areas with dense vegetation. The proof is in the pudding here; ROCK LiDAR breaks through tree canopies to deliver stunning, accurate views of vegetation. Saili summed up his experience surveying the gold mine site this way: “The [ROCK] LiDAR made things easy. This project has been incredible end to end — from us using the LiDAR equipment, the client being happy with the data — it’s just been a big, big win.” What’s Next for Kahuto Pacific? Based on the successful delivery of contours for this project, Kahuto Pacific has gotten dozens of large-scale projects from other clients and contractors in and around Fiji. The company plans to expand its aerial LiDAR surveys and drone services to Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea, which will allow them to cover the entire Central and Eastern Pacific regions. The sky’s the limit. Visit to learn more about our survey-grade LiDAR hardware and processing software.

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