As we begin 2015, GeoDataPoint takes a look at what was popular with our readers in 2014. Here are the top 10 stories of the past year. Hot topics appear to be LiDAR and UAVs, which will likely be big in 2015 as well.

1. “The Next Disruptor: Changing the Business Landscape with Imaging Rovers” by Chris Gibson The year 2013 witnessed the emergence of several important new technologies. Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and new solutions for field imaging dominated industry headlines—and rightfully so. They represent the next generation approaches to gathering accurate field data and delivering information across an expanded set of users and applications.

2. “Accuracy of LiDAR Deliverables a Complex Concept” by Mike Tully A client told me the other day that some vendors are promising vertical accuracy of LiDAR deliverables that exceed the LiDAR manufacturer specifications for that system and asked: Is it legitimate for a service provider to promise better accuracy than manufacturer specifications? Or, are service providers overselling their LiDAR services by promising high vertical accuracies?

3. “Changes to FEMA Flood Insurance Law May Jeopardize Flood Mapping Program” by John Palatiello Facing $24 billion in debt due to claims from Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and other events, and complaints about premium increases from homeowners, Congress is struggling once again with the flood insurance program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

4. “Next on the Horizon: LiDAR UAV without GPS” by Linda Duffy At the recent ILMF Conference in Denver, the high level of interest in UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) continued as several new systems were introduced. One of the intriguing products demonstrated at the show was an Octocopter UAV carrying a Velodyne HDL-32E LiDAR sensor weighing only about 2 pounds. Designed by XactMaps, the Octocopter is a remote controlled aircraft capable of carrying a variety of sensors, including LiDAR, video, multispectral, infrared, and thermal. It conveniently folds up and fits in a rifle case for transport.

5. “Geospatial Highlights: Drone No-Fly Zone Maps, 3D Selfies” by Benita Mehta  Each week GeoDataPoint finds a selection of good reads related to hot topics in the geospatial community. This week's most fascinating find is "Don't Fly Drones Here," an interactive map by open-source mapping tool MapBox that highlights off-limit zones for UAV owners in the United States and Canada based on local regulations — including areas with airports, military bases and national parks.

6. “Three Ways Visual Data Can Cut Costs and Add Value” by Chris Gibson The past year has seen imaging technologies emerge as important tools for positioning and measurement. Once the realm of specialized photogrammetric technicians, instruments and software, visual data is becoming an increasingly common component of geospatial information. This rapid acceptance is not simply the result of early adopters latching onto a new technology. Much of the momentum is coming from fast payback and the potential for long-term savings. Whether it comes from terrestrial cameras or unmanned aerial systems (UAS), imaging is making a strong financial case.

7. “Watch Parrot Drones Put on a Show at AUVSI 2014” by Benita Mehta Small unmanned air systems maker Parrot had their drones perform to music for the audience in the exhibit hall at AUVSI on May 13, 2014, in Orlando. The company also showed off their new Bebop Drone quadcopter at the conference, which will be available later this year.

8. “Watch UAVs Fly at Garden of the Gods; See Images in Autodesk ReCap” by Benita Mehta  Autodesk partnered with 3D Robotics to fly UAVs at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colo. in April during SPAR International 2014. Images captured by the UAVs were processed using Autodesk ReCap 360. Watch the video and check out the resulting images.

9. “Kentucky Highway Project Brings Video Games to Public Infrastructure Design” By  Jennifer Caroland-Shaw and Chuck Lounsberry Most large construction projects use some kind of 3D modeling through their various stages—whether it’s CAD, BIM, photo simulations, or another technology. But sometimes finding a way for the project team and the public to fully grasp a design concept takes something a little more interactive in nature. In Kentucky, a recent highway interchange project brought this kind of animation to a new level, or at least a different one for traditional engineering.

10. “Impact of Pirker Decision Subject to Change” by Joe Paiva Proponents of UAS have seen the decision by the administrative law judge from the National Transportation Safety Board as permission to fly without any need for FAA oversight. However this is a simplification. First, the appeals process has not been exhausted. A close reading of the decision will show those in the know many places to legitimately criticize the judge’s decision. That doesn’t mean that the FAA will prevail, but the issues are not black and white, and thus subject to change, subject to the stamina of the parties to follow through in the avenues of appeal available to them.