Baby steps. That’s what analysts term the patient yet nonetheless progressive movement of any market’s acceptance of new technologies, tools and services.

To provide detailed information on trends in laser scanning among surveying professionals, BNP Media’s market research division again worked with the staff of POB magazine to develop and conduct an annual market study. And just who did we learn from? Again with our 2015 study, the overwhelming majority of respondents — 70 percent of laser scanning equipment users and 82 percent of non-users — either approve or recommend their companies’ equipment purchases. These levels are consistent with those in 2014. Of these study respondents, 83 percent of users and 94 percent of non-users have at least 10 years’ experience. In others words, it’s a good group … responsibly taking baby steps.

Who’s Laser Scanning?

Among study respondents, the use of laser scanning and imaging remains niche and, at 19 percent for 2015, relatively unchanged from the previous year. Established technologies such as total stations and GPS/GNSS equipment remain dominant among the capital goods owned and used by surveying professionals.

What Are They Scanning With?

Of the study respondents who currently use laser scanning and imaging tools, a slight majority of 53 percent employ phase-based terrestrial stationary laser scanners. This rate is up slightly from 50 percent for 2014 and keeps these specific tools at the top of the list. Next in line remain time-of-flight terrestrial stationary laser scanners and terrestrial mobile LiDAR systems at 37 percent each, but down from 47 and 40 percent respectively for 2014.

Looking Up at Technology

The figure that truly soars from the list above is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The emergence of UAVs among professionals and the general public is quite simply not just anecdotal. Not even on the board among laser scanning tool users in 2014, UAVs are in one year alone now being used by 17 percent, thus proving the market is, in this particular area, out in front of regulators and helping drive change.

Where to Spend?

Surveying professionals who use laser scanning tools continue in general to add them at a modest, conservative pace. Of the 2015 study respondents in this market, 13 percent added phase-based terrestrial stationary laser scanners in the past 12 months. This was the highest rate among eight tool types. Again, the big breakthrough is with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which stood at 0 percent just one year prior and vaulted to 7 percent this time around.

We Need Training

On the topic of training, a majority of study respondents using laser scanning tools remain skeptical of the opportunities available for professional surveyors. Among statements they could agree or disagree with: “There is adequate availability of laser scanning/imaging education courses and training opportunities for surveying professionals.”

Who’s With Us?

Regardless of whether or not they are already using laser scanning tools, study respondents continue to share quite common attitudes toward the technologies. Among statements they could select as best describing how they feel: “The surveying profession has the opportunity to lead in laser scanning/imaging implementation, but isn’t moving quickly enough.” Likewise: “The surveying profession will inevitably get left behind in the implementation of laser scanning/imaging technology.”


Scanning Study
Click here to download the PDF of Laser Scanning Trends Report 2015