The RIEGL LiDAR 2012 International Airborne & Mobile User Conference highlighted state-of-the-art hardware and software along with some key trends in the LiDAR industry. 

Dr. Andreas Ullrich, CTO, and Dr. Johannes Riegl, CEO, in front of the RIEGL VMX-250 in 2009.

What happens when a company embarks on an “incessant pursuit of excellence”? As evidenced at the RIEGL LiDAR 2012 conference Feb. 28–March 1 in Orlando, Fla., such an aspiration can produce some of the highest-quality equipment and software on the market.

During his opening address, Dr. Johannes Riegl, founder and CEO of RIEGL Laser Measurement Systems (LMS), noted that RIEGL began developing measurement technologies in 1978 and has been one of the main players in laser scanning since 1996, when it developed the LMS-Q140 Airborne Laser Scanner for corridor mapping. Noteworthy milestones included the introduction of the first RIEGL 3D scanner with a rotating polygon mirror in 1997, the first commercially available 3D scanner for surveying and industrial applications (the LMS-Z210) in 1998, and the first commercially available digitizing and full waveform processing airborne laser scanner (the LMS-Q560) in 2004.

More recent developments have included the LMS-Q680 airborne laser scanner in 2008, the VMX-250 Mobile Laser Scanning System in 2009 and the RIEGL VZ-1000 terrestrial laser scanner in 2010. In 2011, RIEGL launched the VMX-450 Mobile Laser Scanning System, which collects up to 1.1 million measurements and 400 scans per second, and the RIEGL VZ-4000 terrestrial laser scanner, which has a range of up to 4,000 meters (13,123 feet). The company has received numerous awards for its innovations; in January 2012, RIEGL was honored by the Austrian Department for Traffic, Innovation and Technology, the Austrian Patent Office and the publishing company Bohmann with the INVENTUM 2011 award for Patent of the Year for a device and method for determining the exact timing and amplitude of an incoming signal--a principle that allows RIEGL’s V-line scanners to simultaneously provide high timing accuracy and resolution along with a high dynamic range.

The RIEGL VMX-450 Mobile Laser Scanning System

In his keynote address, Dr. Andreas Ullrich, CTO of RIEGL LMS, summarized the benefits of the company’s echo-digitizing LiDAR technology, which provides full waveform analysis. The technology delivers accurate, low-noise, highly detailed point clouds, Ullrich said, along with additional high-quality attributes that improve post processing and provide the potential for straightforward radiometric calibration. User presentations provided real-world examples of these benefits.

A keynote address by Jason Amadori of Earth Eye LLC highlighted an important trend: the merging of technologies and datasets to provide valuable solutions. LiDAR is a tool in the toolbox, he said, not a replacement for surveying or GIS. Service providers need to understand their clients’ problems and use the appropriate technologies and processes to provide a solution and avoid frustrating their clients with technology. “We have to understand how all of the information interacts,” he said, noting that IT support within organizations is crucial. Amadori said the future is pulling all the data together into a GIS, although it is still unclear how the software will handle this integration.

A panel on Mapping and Surveying in the Year 2020 provided an additional glimpse of how the convergence of technologies will likely impact the market. UAVs, improved sensors, increased automation and further democratization will make it increasingly easier for individuals to collect data. Undoubtedly, those who pursue excellence in the management of that data will be best positioned to capture new opportunities.

For more information about the RIEGL LiDAR 2012 conference,