Basic UAS LiDAR Mission Planning (FP 9.0)

This section will walk you through the steps to create a wide-area mapping plan, a perpendicular crossing line, 10 second kinematic line, and figure-8s. This is the most common and widely used flight plan design used in UAS LiDAR.

First, you need to locate the location you will be flying. This can be done by:

  • Typing in an address, landmark, or Lat/Lon coordinates into the Address search bar.

  • Importing a KMZ of the location via the "Upload google KMZ file"

  • Or simply by locating the location via the interactable map, This map works similarly to maps found on Google Earth.

When you open Flight Planner, you will automatically have a "Mission 1" created under the project tab located on the left hand side. It is recommended to edit the mission with a unique name so it can be easily identified.

Now we will set our "Mission Type" for this mission we want mapping lines with one perpendicular crossing flight. The "Flight Type" will be set to Figure-8s and alignment waypoints before the first and after the last flight. Photogrammetry, LiDAR, and Fixed Altitude will be automatically selected by default.

With the Basic mission type defined we can start defining the specific Flight parameters required for UAS LiDAR acquisition. Each aircraft and LiDAR is unique and may require different parameters to function at their most optimal. It is strongly recommended by PLS that you know the capabilities and limitations of your aircraft and sensors and adjust the flight parameters accordingly.

By clicking the "Flight Parameters" tab you will open up a list of parameters that can be defined by the user. In this scenario we will change the following from their default setting:

  • "Kinematic Line Length" - from 75m to 80m. This is done because PLS recommends a 10 second kinematic alignment before the first figure-8 and after the last figure-8. In this scenario our flight speed will be 8 m/s so we need a line length of 80 meters.

  • "Flight time" - will be set to the flight time of your aircraft, in this scenario we will use 28 minutes

  • "Lateral overlap" - This is set to 50%, this is a good general overlap for LiDAR acquisition. If Photogrammetry is required as a deliverable PLS recommends a lateral overlap between 70%-80%.

  • "LiDAR FOV" - PLS recommends planning for a LiDAR FOV of 90 degrees. If the LiDAR FOV of your sensor is less than 90 degrees, adjust this setting to your systems limitations.

Next we will define our Area of Interest (AOI), this is done by simply left-clicking on the interactive map where you would like to define the boundaries of your AOI polygon. By Importing a KMZ, the user can use it as a template to help them define the boundaries of their AOI polygon.

The polygons corners are defined by a white circle, the user can left-click these circles and move them around to redefine the boundaries of the polygon. If they right-click the circle it will remove it from the polygon. Boundary lines will be drawn between adjacent circles. In-between those circles will be a semitransparent circle. If you left-click a semitransparent circle it'll create a new white circle that can be manipulated to help define unique polygon shapes.

To define the camera settings, click the "Camera Sensor" tab to open up the drop-down menu. In this menu you can select from from a list of sensor presets or define the camera sensor by:

  • Sensor Size

  • Pixel Count; and

  • Focal Length

Lastly, we will define the LiDAR settings, click the "LiDAR Sensor" tab to open the drop-down menu. In this menu you can select from a list PLS supported LiDAR sensors. Some sensors allow you to adjust the Pulse Repetition Rate (PRR) to match the Measurement Programs available for that sensor through Spatial Explorer (SE).

In the "LiDAR Sensor" tab you will also find a host of buttons that help to visualize the flight plan you are creating, LiDAR swath width, LiDAR point density, etc. For these overlays to work properly you have to calculate the flight plan. To do this first define your takeoff location with the "Take off location" button. The takeoff location is used to define the distance from takeoff to figure-8s based off the kinematic alignment distance as defined by the user.

With the takeoff location defined and the AOI polygon created we can calculate the flight plan based off the parameters defined by the user by selecting "Calculate Flight Plan". When clicked, the map will generate a flight plan with the following:

  • Kinematic originating from the takeoff location at a distance defined by the "kinematic line length" parameter

  • figure-8s at the beginning and end of the mission with a diameter defined by "Figure 8 Diameter" parameter

  • A flight plan with proper flight line spacing as defined by the flight parameters tab and a perpendicular line crossing the mid point of the flight plan.

Once the flight plan is generated. A new sub section under your mission name will be available in the Project tab showing your different flights. In this example we have "Flight #1".

  • There is an "edit flight" button in the form of a pencil Icon. If you select this it converts the green flight plan lines to a blue color that allows further figure-8 editing options not available otherwise.

Once the flight plan is completed, go into the "Mission Library" and select "Save selected mission". This will save the Current mission you have selected and name it the in accordance to the project mission name.

Lastly we can export the mission out to be used on approved UAS GCS software's and to Google Earth for planning purposes. After giving the project a "File Name" you can pick the "Export product". Currently the the approved software's you can export to are:

  • Litchi

  • DJI Pilot 2

  • QGroundControl

  • Mission Planner (Use QGroundControl)

  • Spatial Explorer (Mission Guidance PLS)

  • Google Earth KML Report

The file will be exported to your Downloads folder on your PC.

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